March 19-20, 2004: Lyn Cowan

Lecture:  Images in a Melancholic Eye

Until the mid-19th century, melancholy was imagined as a sacred affliction from the gods, a madness characteristic of genius and the most difficult and complex temperament.  At the height of the Renaissance, it was imagined in personified form as a majestic female figure; artists and poets looked to her as their Muse.  But, in the twentieth century, melancholy all but disappeared from the professional imagination, to be replaced by the diagnostic categories of depression.  Where did Melancholy go?  How did she lose her voice?  How can we call her into life again, listen to her wisdom, take new creative heart from within her depths?  This lecture/slide presentation will use both spoken word and photographs to re-discover Melancholy as Muse.

Workshop:  Images In a Melancholic Voice

The melancholic mood has a distinctive tone which can be heard as clearly in certain kinds of writing as in music.  Our discussion will continue themes introduced in the lecture, particularly the idea that melancholy, unlike depression, is a creative matrix, seeing to answer these questions:  How can we hear the Muse in our own melancholic moments?  What sort of expression does the Muse give us when we try to express something from a melancholy place in the psyche?  Why is this important for our psychic health?  Participants are asked to bring paper and pen and, if possible, a photograph or snapshot that has personal meaning.


Lyn Cowan, Ph.D. , has been a practicing Jungian analyst since 1980.    Recently re-located to Houston, Texas, from the Twin Cities, she teaches at the C.G. Jung Education Center of Houston and will be Adjdunct Professor at the University of Houston beginning in the fall of 2004.  Dr. Cowan served as Director of Training of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts for six years and is a past president of the Society.  Her books include Tracking the White Rabbit: A Subversive View of Modern Culture and Masochism: A Jungian View, and third book on melancholy is in negotiation for publication.  She has also had four major exhibits of her photographic work, and continues to pursue her lifelong passion for thoroughbred horse racing.

The Blue Shadows of Melancholy