Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-10-2017

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Brian Glaser


Though largely marginalized within its own discipline, Psychoanalytic theory, specifically object relation’s theory, promises a breadth of value to ecological modernization (EM) discourse when appropriated interdisciplinarily as a rhetorical frame or lens. This project incorporates and extends the ecopsychological application of Kleinian object relations to the human-nature relationship, previously researched by Joseph Dodds (2011). Through the application of Kleinian theory to environmental rhetoric, both within political and social discourses, this paper explores the psychological processes that characterize political decision-making regarding the economy versus ecology debate, as well as exploring cultural ideologies that perpetuate the forgetting of our integral relations with and reliance upon the natural world. This project examines the political rhetoric of President Trump and President Obama’s energy and conservation policy through the developmental phases of the depressive and the paranoid-schizoid positions that comprise Kleinian object relation’s theory. Expanding outside of the political realm, this analysis applies the same psychoanalytic theories to two contemporary public art pieces, the first being Agnes Denes’ Wheatfeild – A Confrontation grown in Manhattan (1982) and the second being Director Louie Psihoyos’ video projection performance illumiNations (2014), at the UN headquarters. Framing the social and political domains, Schlosberg and Rinfret (2008) advocate for strong EM discourse that deliberates an impactful transformation among social and economic structures. In response to this exigency, this paper contributes to EM discourse by employing psychological principles as the frame for understanding the mechanics that underlie the perceived conflict between economic growth and environmental preservation, using political and social discourse as the subjects of analysis.


Presented at the Spring 2017 Student Research Day at Chapman University.