The Unconscious Is Structured Like a Workplace: Brainwork, Artwork and the Divided Labor of Thought in Late-Victorian Fiction

Lecture | October 18 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Wheeler Hall, 330, English Department Lounge

 Emily Steinlight, Stephen M. Gorn Family Assistant Professor of English, Penn Arts & Sciences

 Department of English

This talk will find a prehistory of the contemporary problematic of the “creative economy” in two late-Victorian novels of the art world, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and George Du Maurier’s Trilby. Examining the relation they plot out between psychic processes and aesthetic production, it will assess how these narratives track art to unconscious sources that strangely resemble the economic relations and forms of labor from which artwork is supposed to differ--and how, in so doing, they mediate the increasingly uncertain boundaries around work more broadly.

This talk is related to Professor Steinlight's current project, Unmanageable Thoughts, which focuses on Victorian theories of mental labor.

It is sponsored by the C19 + Beyond British Cultural Studies Townsend working group and the Florence Green Bixby Chair in English.