Psychoanalysis Unit


UCL Psychoanalysis Unit Webinar, Presented by Shaul Bar-Haim

30 June 2022, 2:00 pm–3:30 pm

Abstract image for The language of the ‘inward’

'The language of the ‘inward’: The 'maternal' as a site of hidden emotions in 1930s Britain'

This event is free.

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Psychoanalysis Unit


About this Event

We are pleased to announce Shaul Bar-Haim will be presenting a paper on 'The Language of the 'inward': The 'maternal' as a site of hidden emotions in 1930s Britain.

The presentation will be chaired by Liz Allison, following which there will be time for thoughts and questions on the paper and its topics.

It is also possible to attend in-person at the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit (1-19 Torrington Place), however please note that only a limited number of spaces is available.


About this Webinar

Emotions scholars are often reluctant to assume the existence of people's interiority, psychic reality, or indeed unconscious' feelings. For example, historians working under the influence of new materialistic frameworks in the study of emotions very often tend to focus mainly on ‘images’ of expressive emotions, texts in which emotions are being discussed more explicitly, or other primary sources where emotions can be easily identified and fit into a descriptive historical narrative. In topographical terms, emotions scholars tend to deny the hermeneutic demands that entail discourses assuming ‘inwardness’ of the psyche.

The main aim of my paper is to show how psychoanalysis can still be useful today for locating what I call 'sites of hidden emotions'. I will demonstrate some of these theoretical suggestions by drawing on one case study: the discourse of the 'maternal' in 1930s Britain. During that time, the fascist crisis in Europe, and the popularity of new 'maternalist' strands in psychoanalysis, turned motherhood into a psychosocial domain of anxieties, phantasies and desires – or, as I will argue, a 'site of hidden emotions'.

The exploration of this case study will enable me to highlight the importance of preserving the interest in what poet Denise Riley called 'feeling of private inwardness' in an age that is dominated by neuroscience and other materialistic approaches to the mind.


Shaul Bar-Haim Biography

Shaul Bar-Haim is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Essex. His research focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of psychoanalysis, and related disciplines, in twentieth-century Britain. He is the author of The Maternalists: Psychoanalysis, Motherhood, and the British Welfare State (Penn University Press, 2021); and the co-editor of Wild Analysis: From the Couch to Cultural and Political Life (Routledge/New Library of Psychoanalysis, 2021).


Suggested Readings


Bar-Haim, S. The Maternalists: Psychoanalysis, Motherhood, and the British Welfare State, Penn University Press, 2021 (Introduction)

Papoulias C, Callard F. Biology’s Gift: Interrogating the Turn to Affect. Body & Society. 2010;16(1):29-56.



Please note registration will close at 11pm GMT on Wednesday 29 June 2022. Registration is required in order to attend. The webinar will be held in-person at the Psychoanalysis Unit and over Zoom. Instructions to join the event will be circulated in the morning of the day of the event. If you have any queries, please use the "Contact us" button at the bottom of this page to get in touch with the events team.

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Header image by Le Lecteur, Louis Marcoussis (1878/1883-1941)
Photo credit: Birmingham Museums Trust, used under a CC0 license.