The "Derridean Pharmacology" of the Transitional Object

The seminar is online only, and will be available to view online from 8.15pm on Monday 23rd May for 7 days. The link will be sent by email on that day. If you were registered last term, you will automatically receive the link this term. To register for the first time, please email Please note that there will not be an online discussion with viewers, but comments may be posted on

I start with Derrida’s early essay on Freud, ‘Freud and the Scene of Writing’. At the end of the essay he suggests the possibility of a ‘psychoanalytic graphology’ and invokes the work of Melanie Klein and, surprisingly, James Strachey, one of the British pioneers of psychoanalysis along with his wife Alix (and also brother to Lytton). He invokes Klein’s essay on ‘The Role of the School in the Libidinal Development of the Child’ as well as Strachey’s ‘Some Unconscious Factors in Reading’. In passing, Derrida’s wife Marguerite was translating Klein in order to pay for her own psychoanalytical training. I focus less on Klein and more on another British Object Relations psychoanalyst, D W Winnicott, and explore how his ideas about ‘transitional objects’ and the mother-baby relationship resonate with ideas about originary technicity, particularly as developed by Bernard Stiegler out of Derrida’s own work. I will discuss how Stiegler himself uses Winnicott’s ideas in his book What Makes Life Worth Living. I will also touch on Agamben’s relation to Winnicott, and how it finds its expression in his analysis of the ‘apparatus’. Finally (if I have time) I link all this back to human bipedality, neoteny and the helplessness of the human infant.
Chaired by Louise Braddock; the paper will be followed by short comments and discussion from three other contributors: Arthur Bradley (Lancaster), Niall Gildea (Lancaster), and Angela Joyce (British Psychoanalytical Society).