Genres of the Imagination: Towards a New Psychohistory [David Beisel and Irene Javors]


This is a participatory workshop intended to develop new ways of thinking about, doing, and writing psychohistory. We will provide a new focus and extend the presentations we made, separately, in the May IPhA meeting. Dr. Javors’ presentation was a multi-level analysis of the 1947 film Nightmare Alley, as well as an analysis of the novel it is based on, that novel’s author, the recent remake of the film by del Toro, and the lessons these things have for today. Dr. Beisel’s presentation was entitled, “The Suicidal Embrace Revisited: Lessons for Today,” which looked at the ways in which the conclusions of his 2003 study on the road to World War II help us understand the self-destructive psychodynamics at work domestically and internationally in our present world.

What we propose for our joint October 2022 presentation is to show how our listening to each other and dialoguing with each other–as exemplified in our book, Genres of the Imagination (2021)–can be applied as a new methodology in psychohistory. The October presentations will illustrate how intense listening to and open dialoguing with ourselves and with each other, as well as bringing into consideration our own personal stories to help us better understand our insights, worked together to enrich and deepen our understanding of our research subjects. While the October 2022 presentations will connect to our earlier work, they will also stand by themselves as separate papers. Emphasis will be placed on showing the practical ways in which this methodology can be accomplished by our colleagues working in psychohistory.

Short bio:

Irene Javors, LMHC has degrees in counseling, philosophy and history. She writes on the interplay between culture and psyche. She is the author of ‘ Culture Notes: Essays on Sane Living.’ She has written essays and reviews for Hyperallergic and is a frequent contributor to the journal, Gay and Lesbian Review/ Worldwide. She has also contributed essays to Clio’s Psyche and she has given presentations to the IPA on Susan Sontag, film noir, and the uses of poetry in psychohistory.

She is a retired Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health Counseling, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. She has taught courses in gender and sexuality, grief, and women’s psychology. She is the author of the children’s book, Kelpie’s Bells with art by Matthew Snow as well her new and revised poetry book InThe Twilight Hour, with art by Matthew Snow. She is the co- author with David Beisel of Genres of the Imagination – essays on jazz and film noir. In 2020, she launched with (Cassandra Langer) a YOUTUBE channel -Re-View wherein we comment on the arts and culture.’

David Beisel holds a Ph.D in Modern European History from New York University, is twice past-president of the International Psychohistorical Association, and edited The Journal of Psychohistory from 1979 to 1987. He has written widely on American and European history and most recently is co-author with Irene Javors of six psychohistorical essays on music, film, and politics in their new book, Genre of the Imagination (Circumstantial Productions and Amazon, 2021).