Ben Kafka

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication; Comparative Literature; and History

Ben Kafka

Office Hours: Thursdays ~9:30-10:30 | 239 Greene Street, Rm. 618


Ben Kafka is a psychoanalyst, cultural historian, and critic. His first book, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (Zone Books, 2012; French translation 2013), explored the material, organizational, political, and unconscious origins of our conflicts with bureaucracy. He is currently working on a new book developing the themes of the psychoanalyst Harold Searles's 1959 essay, "The Effort to Drive the Other Person Crazy," in a wider setting (gaslighting, double binds, Catch-22s, etc.). He sees adult and adolescent patients in private practice (NYS Lic. No. 000949).

Prof. Kafka received his B.A. in History and Modern Culture & Media from Brown and his Ph.D. in European intellectual and cultural history from Stanford. He then spent three years at the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2007 he became a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities, where he currently serves as chair of its executive committee, and, in 2016, a Rita Frankiel Memorial Fellow of the Melanie Klein Trust. He has held visiting positions at the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study, the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, and the Internationale Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He is a co-editor of the journal History of the Present; a member of the editorial board of Grey Room; and a member of the advisory board of the Feminist Theory Archive at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown. He is in advanced clinical training at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), a component society of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and licensed to practice by the State of New York.

He has cross-appointments in the Departments of History, Comparative Literature, and French