Jan Campbell is both a practising psychoanalyst and academic. She understands psychoanalysis as a form of literature and in relation to cultural experience and identity.
She is also very interested in the philosophical relationships with psychoanalysis, particularly phenomenology and the immanent philosophy associated with Henri Bergson.
Working extensively on psychoanalysis in relation to issues of literature, culture, film and cultural theory, Campbell has written various books. For example, her first monograph Arguing With The Phallus: Feminist, Queer and Postcolonial Theory re-visits and re-reads psychoanalysis in relation to questions of gender, sexualities and postcolonial identities. This book also reads psychoanalysis in relation to literature, cultural mourning and memory.
The relation between psychoanalysis, culture and history is further explored through her edited collection, Psycho-politics and Cultural Desires. Campbell’s latest book Psychoanalysis and the Time of life: Durations of the Unconscious Self returns to the late nineteenth century and to the early debates between psychoanalysis, psychology and philosophy. Putting Freud into dialogue with Henri Bergson, Campbell explores the concept of the unconscious in relation to issues of time, affect, representation, hypnosis, neuroscience and trauma studies. Freud understood the unconscious as a kind of timeless space, but in using Bergson’s work Campbell also examines what it would mean to read the unconscious as a psychological time as well as space. The last chapter in this book considers the implications of this in relation to the spatial flows of our post-modern, global age.
Reading the unconscious in terms of psychological time or a psychic space time has interesting implications for the ways historical literary writers have used the unconscious in their work.. Campbell’s current book explores the work of the unconscious in relation to modern literature, focusing on the Turn of the Century and Modernist period.