Participants: Elizabeth Auchincloss, Anne Cattaneo, Barry Komisaruk, Rachel Maines
Sarah Ruhl's new play, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), currently onstage at Lincoln Center Theater, explores the profoundly elusive nature of sexuality. Set in late 19th century America, the play features a doctor attempting to treat the predominantly female malaise of hysteria with the newly invented electric vibrator. Ruhl's
characters seek self-awareness and fulfillment—sexually, and in their family, professional, and romantic relationships. For audiences today, timeless parallels resonate. We live in an age in which women are encouraged to explore their sexuality, but also an age where the sale of vibrators is forbidden in several states. "What do women want?" asked Freud. The discovery of the self—whether as mother, artist, wife, husband, or lover—is as present for us today as it was for the Victorians. This roundtable will consider changing representations and ideas about women's sexuality from the perspectives of a playwright, dramaturg, psychoanalyst, and historian.
Elizabeth Auchincloss is the Vice-Chairman for Graduate Medical Education, Director of Residency Training, and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She is also the Senior Associate Director and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. The winner of numerous teaching awards, Dr. Auchincloss is the editor of The Quiet Revolution in American Psychoanalysis: Selected Papers of Arnold M. Cooper, M.D. She has published papers in The American Journal of Psychiatry, The Archives of General Psychiatry, The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and The International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Anne Cattaneo is the Dramaturg of the Lincoln Center Theater and creator and head of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors' Lab. A three term past President of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, she is the recipient of LMDA's first Lessing Award for lifetime achievement in dramaturgy.
Barry Komisaruk is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University. He shared the Hugo F. Beigel Research Award in Sexuality with Beverly Whipple, and his area of research specialty is the role of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system in the control of reproductive behavior and physiology, and pain control, in humans and laboratory animals. He has co-authored three books, including The Science of Orgasm and The Orgasm Answer Guide.
Rachel Maines is a visiting scientist in the Cornell University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her principal research interests are in the history of technology, especially issues relating to technology and the body, including sexuality, medicine, technological risk, and injury epidemiology. Her books include The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction and Hedonizing Technologies: Paths to Pleasure in Hobbies and Leisure.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.