Naomi Segal

Professor Naomi Segal is Professorial Fellow in French and German studies at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2004 she was founding Director of the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies [IGRS]; before that, at the University of Reading, she created and directed an MA on The Body & Representation. Since 1999 she has served on or chaired numerous inter/national committees including within ESF, HERA and the AHRB/C. She is the author of 82 articles and 15 books. She is currently running an international project Cultural Literacy in Europe (see and has just completed a translation of Anzieu’s Le Moi-peau into English; two monographs – one on fictional dogs, the other on the notion of replacement – are at the planning stage. She is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des palmes académiques, an Academic Associate of the British Psychoanalytic Society and a member of the Academia Europaea.

My academic interest in psychoanalysis goes back to my doctoral thesis (published as The Banal Object, 1981), which analysed four French & Austrian fictions in which the narrator has a breakdown in relation to everyday objects and the possibility of writing; it was further developed by teaching an interdisciplinary multilingual paper on The Avant-garde in Cambridge in the 1980s, in which psychoanalysis was one of the key references. Questions of gender in relation to Freud and other psychoanalytic theorists have permeated my publications from the same decade on, focusing on 19c confessional short fiction (The Unintended Reader, 1986; Narcissus and Echo, 1988), the novel of adultery (The Adulteress’s Child, 1992; Scarlet Letters, 1997), sexuality and André Gide (André Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy, 1998; Coming Out of Feminism?, 1998; Le Désir à l’Œuvre, 2000) and the body (Indeterminate Bodies, 2003). Two of my books have been specifically on psychoanalysis, following on from events: Freud in Exile (1988) and Vicissitudes: Histories and destinies of psychoanalysis (2013).

Twenty years after the Freud in London conference coorganised with Edward Timms in 1986, I ran a 15-month project as Director of the IGRS, under the title Psychoanalysis and the arts & humanities: a multilingual perspective, which included four conferences, eight seminar series and several art events; it brought together artists, academics and analysts within five language-areas (French, German, English, Italian and Hispanic-Lusophone) and produced many publications.

My two most recent books focus on the work and theories of Anzieu: Consensuality: Didier Anzieu, gender and the sense of touch (2009) and a retranslation of his Le Moi-peau: The Skin-ego (forthcoming). Didier Anzieu (1923-1999) is most famous for his psychoanalytic study of the skin, though his work ranges well beyond this. His first publications, based on his two doctoral theses and published in 1956 and 1959, were a study of psychodrama and a detailed examination of Freud’s self-analysis – indeed, he remained fascinated by self-analysis up to the last publication in his lifetime, a quirky book on Beckett (1998). He wrote fiction, drama, a volume of cartoons and a personal memoir of May 1968. His theoretical work falls into three categories, all focused on the borders of things: the first on psychodrama and group dynamics; the second on self-analysis and creativity; and the third on the moi-peau [skin-ego], the theory of psychical wrappings and its development into his theory of thought.