Reconstructing desire: the role of the unconscious in women's reading and writing

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University of North Carolina Press, Dec 1, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 271 pages
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This provocative study explores the function of the unconscious in reading and creative processes. The book asks if reading can change the reader and if women, through reading, can change the unconscious fantasy structures that govern desire. Using models of the unconscious developed by Freud, Lacan, Kristeva, Cixous, Nay, and Chodorow, Wyatt explores the complex interactions between a text and a reader's unconscious. She theorizes specific processes whereby young readers can assimilate dynamic images of female autonomy in "Heidi," "The Wizard of Oz," and "Little Women."

By tracing the imprint of father-daughter relations on women's unconscious fantasy life, Wyatt seeks to explain the hold of romantic love fantasies like "Jane Eyre" over many female readers. She looks to contemporary novels for alternative fantasies: to female artist novels by Lessing, Drabble, and Walker for fantasies of sexuality nurturing creativity; and to the flexible family circles of "Beloved" and "The Color Purple" for alternatives to patriarchal family arrangements. Wyatt argues that novels like "The Awakening" and "Housekeeping" that reflect and transform readers preoedipal fantasies offer women radical alternatives to dominant cognitive and social structures.

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Oedipal Fantasy
Revolutionary Languages in The Awakening

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