A Word from the Editor
I’m pursuing a number of themes this year and one of them is the representation of psychiatry in recent French film and fiction. The two discussed in this issue address Charcot’s approach to hysteria and fin-de-siècle psychiatric debates. Judith Surkis notes the discrepancies between Alice Winocour’s Augustine and Charcot’s actual patient, but concludes that the film raises interesting points about gender, patient-analyst relations, fantasy, and mental illness, especially when combined with secondary sources. Richard Keller, in his review of Sebastian Faulks’s Human Traces, warns the reader to watch out for anachronisms. Faulks’s two fictional characters, a Frenchman and a Brit who open a posh psychiatric clinic in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century, quarrel over appropriate treatments. Long didactic passages inform the reader about current debates, until Faulks inappropriately assigns late twentieth-century neuro-scientific methods to the early twentieth century. In the classics section, we have the unusual opportunity of learning how three members of the History department at Western Washington University teach the film Black Robe. Each uses it within a different historical context, New France for Cecilia Danysk, post-Tridentine Europe for Amanda Eurich, and colonial America for Laurie Hochstetler. They assign different texts alongside, demonstrating the film’s extraordinary versatility.
University at Buffalo, SUNY