Looking glasses and neverlands: Lacan, desire, and subjectivity in children's literature

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University of Iowa Press, Jun 1, 2004 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 191 pages
THIS groundbreaking study introduces and explores Lacan's complex theories of subjectivity and desire through close readings of canonical children's books such as "Charlotte's Web, Stellaluna, Holes, Tangerine, and "The Chocolate War. Looking Glasses and "Neverlands thus provides an introduction to an increasingly influential body of difficult work while making the claim that children's textual encounters are as significant as their existential ones in constituting their subjectivities and giving shape to their desires. The texts render lucid Lacan's theory, and the theory helps explain why the texts remain so profoundly influential in constructing a child's sense of self. Coats shows how our literate culture has come to define and cope with the inevitable losses and separations of childhood, and how discourses of race, gender, and desire get written on our bodies, transforming us into the subjects we are. The book offers a comprehensive introduction to Lacan's theories of subjectivity, gender, and ethics and also extends those theories into discussions of race and the distinctions between modernist and postmodernist subjectivity. Coats explains Lacanian concepts such as the registers of the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic, alienation and separation, and the nature of desire, the "objet a, and "jouissance; she also takes up Lacan's concept of logical rather than chronological time, showing how picture books facilitate the child's emerging sense of boundaries and otherness and help her establish the imaginary ideals that will foster her growth. Finally, Coats looks at how children's books help a child situate himself with respect to language in the symbolic order, acquire apreferred psychic structure, adopt a gendered public identity, and develop a sense of ethics that may or may not respect the space between the self and other. "Looking Glasses and Neverlands will be of great interest to students an

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User Review  - tdfangirl - LibraryThing

This is the first Lacan I've ever read, so I have to admit, much of the theory that Karen Coats explores in this book went over my head. Some of Lacan's concepts are difficult to understand for even ... Read full review


The Subject of Childrens Literature i
Childrens Literature and Sexuation
Postmoderns at the Gates of Dawn

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About the author (2004)

Karen Coats is an associate professor of English at Illinois State University.

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