Comparative Literature has long been the home of the most exciting developments in psychoanalytic theory as it interprets, and can be reinterpreted through, literature, film, the broader arts, culture and society. The department has particular strengths in Lacanian theory, trauma theory and the study of affect, three areas of cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research over the last several decades. Courses on Lacanian psychoanalysis touch on philosophy, sexual difference, political theory, perversion, and mathematical formalization, among other topics.
The study of trauma in the department trains students in the intersections between literature and trauma, trauma and testimony, the cultural and political implications of work on trauma, religion and trauma, and the newest developments in trauma across cultures. Cornell provides important resources in these areas, including the Psychoanalysis Reading Group, the newly launched Cornell access to the full USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archives, and the Postcolonial Trauma Reading Group, as well as an ongoing lecture series on trauma and history.