Erin Soros


Erin Soros is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University where she is researching psychoanalytic conceptions of psychic energy and psychosis as a response to trauma.  She has published fiction and nonfiction in international anthologies and journals, including Short Fiction, The Iowa Review, The Indiana Review, Exile Literary Quarterly, Geist, Prism, West Coast Line, Fiddlehead and enRoute, and her stories have been produced for the CBC and BBC as winners of the CBC Literary Award and the Commonwealth Award for the Short Story.  Her academic articles weaving psychoanalysis, philosophy and autobiographical narrative have appeared in such journals as differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, The Journal of Intercultural Studies, The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, and The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law.  New work has appeared in Literatures of Madness, published by Palgrave Macmillan, and in Women and the Psychosocial Construction of Madness, Lexington Press. Soros has been a visiting writer at four universities, most recently as the Harper-Wood fellow at St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge, a position that funded travel to learn from Inuvialuit oral history in Canada’s Western Arctic.  She was also a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto where she researched correspondences and tensions between Indigenous and settler understandings of the mind.  She has received a Fulbright Award, the Governor General’s Gold Medal, and two teaching awards, including Columbia University’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Research Focus

Manic Meanings

Expansive mood, decreased need for sleep, increased activity levels, elevated sexual drive, inflated self-esteem, excessive spending, impulsive decisions, volatility, distractibility, fast thinking, fast talking: the symptoms of mania can all be linked to a rise in energy—physical but also and perhaps more curiously mental energy—a rising tide of psychic force that can result in hallucinations and delusions, exuberance giving way to terror. My project considers mania and manic psychosis through a psychoanalytic lens, veering from contemporary psychiatric understandings that view such disruptions as symptoms of a biochemical disorder. I examine the conceptions of psychic energy in Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, Jacques Lacan, and Christopher Bollas. This examination will be lyrical and aphoristic, a series of short meditations that address the relationships between the psychoanalysts’ theories as well as tensions and contradictions. My key hypothesis is that mania can be a defense against trauma. Yet I intend to address this hypothesis at a slant—not through explicit argument, but rather through an accretion of reflections as I consider possibilities and uncertainties. Along with this investigation, I will write an independent but linked document that weaves together critical and creative methodologies. This parallel text, to be published face-to-face with the theoretical investigation, will be both case study and long poem. It will provide texture and specificity to the more abstract musings of the psychoanalytic reflection. And it will open this interpretation to readers beyond the academy: my aim is that this work will be read both as a scholarly contribution and as itself a work of literature. The combined document will influence literary study and psychoanalysis, disability and mad studies, drawing those interested in the extremes of linguistic expression and how these extremes illuminate the psyche.