In 1955 Lacan presents his seminar on Poe’s The Purloined Letter, only to publish it in the journal “la Psychanalyse” in 1957. It is the first text of his Écrits, published in 1966. Poe’s novel is usually considered the inspiration for all the detective writings we have become accustomed to, including the character of Sherlock Holmes which is thought to have been inspired by Détective Dupin. Lacan discussed the text at a time when he was reviewing Freud’s text “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, and was marking the difference between the ego and the subject. Poe’s short story might serve as a metaphor for the analytic cure where the function of repetition is crucial. In this seminar Lacan insists on the structure of the signifier and the symbolic order, in its relationship to the Real and the Imaginary.
“The teaching of this seminar is designed to maintain that imaginary effects, far from representing the core of analytic experience, give us nothing of any consistency unless they are related to the symbolic chain that binds and orients them”
Lacan, 2006, p. 6
The group work will be targeting a “cartel” style, with possible invitations of +1. The outcome of the seminar could consist in a compilation of collaborative texts. However, anyone can join the group at anytime. We will read the text together, starting with Poe’s novel and on to Lacan’s seminar on “The Purloined Letter”.

Dates and time: 1st Saturday every month; 1-3:30 pm Eastern Time, October 2017 to June 2018
Location: Philadelphia, PA (Center City) / In-person only
Fee: Free of charge
Contact: Cécile G. McKenna at


Suggested Reading:
Lacan, J. (2006). Seminar on “The Purloined Letter” in Écrits: The first complete edition in English (B. Fink, Trans.) (pp. 6-48). New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1956); Muller, J.P. & Richardson, W.J. (Eds) (1988). The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida and Psychoanalytical Reading. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press; Poe, E.A. (1844). The Purloined Letter. Retrieved from