Psychology, Social Psychology

A new book by Professor Paul Stenner

This week sees the publication of Liminality and Experience: A transdisciplinarity approach to the psychosocial, by Paul Stenner.


Professor Steven Brown from the University of Leicester describes Stenner’s new book as a ‘landmark statement’ offering a ‘new vision’ of psychological experience as inseparable from our social and cultural worlds. Processor Tania Zittoun from the University of Neuchâtel says the book shows ‘liminality as the core dynamic of human and social change.’ A situation is liminal when people find themselves transformed and ‘becoming other’. For Stenner, as psychosocial beings we exist less as ‘things’ than as flows of processes. But there are breaks and ruptures in the flow, and it is during these ‘liminal occasions’ that our experience unravels and is rewoven. Liminal occasions can occur spontaneously or they can be devised or ‘staged’, and it is through the mixture of spontaneity and ‘staging’ that liminal experience becomes fundamental both to our individual development and to our shared culture. In this way Stenner illuminates just how fundamental psychology is to the arts and the arts are to psychology. In opening these ‘transdisciplinary’ connections, the book transfigures psychology’s relations the social sciences, the natural sciences and the arts and humanities. Tania Zittoun notes the breadth and scope of the book, which weaves ‘across disciplines with amazing scholarship, wit and poetry’ and Professor Wendy Hollway describes it as a ‘compelling justification of the merits of transdisciplinarity.’

Professor Thomas Slunecko from the University of Vienna describes Liminality and Experience as a ‘remarkable book.’ In opening up fresh insights into neglected psychological topics like dream, imagination, fabulation, symbolism and affectivity it ‘paves a way to things that have been hidden since the foundation of psychology’. Written in an accessible yet rigorous way, Stenner carefully guides the reader on an unforgettable psychological journey from the fables from Aesop to the dreams of Socrates and the paradoxical paintings of Magritte. Says Professor Brown, ‘there is no finer introduction to this complex field and no more passionate and impressive a vision for future work’.

An interview with Professor Stenner by Jon Sutton, the Editor of The Psychologist, has been published in the March 2018 volume of The Psychologist.

Talk to me about circles. The German poet Rilke, who was a bit of genius, wrote ‘I live my life in ever widening circles’. I think we all ‘move in circles …

Details about the book can be found here.

Stenner, P (2017) Liminality and Experience: A transdisciplinarity approach to the psychosocial. London: Palgrave.Stenner, P (2017) Liminality and Experience: A transdisciplinarity approach to the psychosocial. London: Palgrave.

There will be a book launch at OU Camden on the evening of April 18th. Contact Paul if you’d like to attend.

Palgrave will have a day-long promotion on the electronic copy of the book on April 16th when it will be available for just £9.99. This can be accessed here.


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