Reading Lacan

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Cornell University Press, 1985 - Philosophy - 198 pages
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The influence of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has extended into nearly every field of the humanities and social sciences—from literature and film studies to anthropology and social work. yet Lacan's major text, Ecrits, continues to perplex and even baffle its readers. In Reading Lacan, Jane Gallop offers a novel approach to Lacan's work based on his own theories of language.

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About the author (1985)

Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Gallop has been associated with the dissemination of "French feminist" poststructuralist theory in the United States. Anglo-American feminists focused on women's experience and history and on "realistic" images of women in literature. French feminists theorists, on the other hand, explored feminine subjectivity and the use of "woman" in language, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Anglo-American feminists searched out literary foremothers; French feminists elaborated a utopian and modernist or avant-garde writing of the feminine body and desire. Anglo-American feminists called for women to make themselves "whole"; French feminists theorized a feminine subject who was inescapably split, gloriously multiple, uncontained by a unitary self. Gallop's second book, The Daughter's Seduction: Feminism and Psychoanalysis (1982), was published shortly after the first translated works of French feminists appeared. Hers was therefore one of the first American feminist overviews of French feminist deconstructive and psychoanalytic theory. As such, it had a significant impact on the way in which the French theorists were read, and it participated in what was becoming a division within the feminist community between those for or against "theory." All of Gallop's books, even her first, Intersections (1981), strategically engage French theory and questions of sexuality. Typically, Gallop demystifies texts by doing "symptomatic readings" of them, drawing on psychoanalytic and deconstructive methodologies to reveal a work's "perversities"---the contradictions, blind spots, and slips that arise from its rootedness in history and ideological conflicts. She seeks to expose these so as to betray the text's (or author's) interests. Her own work is frequently autobiographical, full of puns and other literary gestures that call into question its claims to knowledge---a process she terms "dephallicization." Gallop has published four books and has been the recipient of several fellowships, including a Guggenheim.

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