Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek

[sic] Series

Book 10
Duke University Press
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Challenging the widely-held assumption that Slavoj Žižek's work is far more germane to film and cultural studies than to literary studies, this volume demonstrates the importance of Žižek to literary criticism and theory. The contributors show how Žižek's practice of reading theory and literature through one another allows him to critique, complicate, and advance the understanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis and German Idealism, thereby urging a rethinking of historicity and universality. His methodology has implications for analyzing literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres and can enrich theoretical frameworks ranging from aesthetics, semiotics, and psychoanalysis to feminism, historicism, postcolonialism, and ecocriticism. The contributors also offer Žižekian interpretations of a wide variety of texts, including Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Samuel Beckett's Not I, and William Burroughs's Nova Trilogy. The collection includes an essay by Žižek on subjectivity in Shakespeare and Beckett. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek affirms Žižek's value to literary studies while offering a rigorous model of Žižekian criticism.
 Contributors. Shawn Alfrey, Daniel Beaumont, Geoff Boucher, Andrew Hageman, Jamil Khader, Anna Kornbluh, Todd McGowan, Paul Megna, Russell Sbriglia, Louis-Paul Willis, Slavoj Žižek
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About the author

Russell Sbriglia is Assistant Professor of English at Seton Hall University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Feb 27, 2017
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9780822373384
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that "I think, therefore I am"—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito's agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes. Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which "I think, therefore I am" becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by "If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist."

Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian "subject of the unconscious," the contributors follow Lacan's plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject's confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett. In a style that has become familiar to Žižek's readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant's moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand's novels, from the question "Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?" to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.

Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.

Contributors. Miran Bozovic, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

Contemporary discourse seems to provide a choice in the way sexual identities and sexual difference are described and analyzed. On the one hand, much current thinking suggests that sexual identity is fluid—socially constructed and/or performatively enacted. This discourse is often invoked in the act of overcoming an earlier patriarchal era of fixed and naturalized identities. On the other hand, some modern discourses of sexual identity seem to offer a New Age Jungian re-sexualization of the universe—"Men are from Mars, and women are from Venus"—according to which there is an underlying, deeply anchored archetypal identity that provides a kind of safe haven in the contemporary confusion of roles and identities.

In this volume, contributors discuss a third way of thinking about sexual identity and sexual difference—a direction opened by Jacques Lacan. For Lacan, what we all recognize as sexual difference is first and foremost representative of a certain fundamental deadlock inherent in the symbolic order, that is, in language and in the entire realm of culture conceived as a symbol system structured on the model of language. For him, the logical matrix of this deadlock is provided by his own formulas of sexuation. The essays collected here elaborate on different aspects of this deadlock of sexual difference. While some examine the role of semblances in the relation between the sexes or consider sexual identity not as anatomy but still involving an impasse of the real, others discuss the difference between sexuation and identification, the role of symbolic prohibition in the process of the subject’s sexual formation, or the changed role of the father in contemporary society and the impact of this change on sexual difference. Other essays address such topics as the role of beating in sexual fantasies and jouissance in feminine jealousy.

Contributors. Alain Badiou, Elizabeth Bronfen, Darian Leader, Jacques Alain Miller, Genevieve Morel, Renata Salecl, Eric L. Santner, Colette Soler, Paul Verhaeghe, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

The masochist, the voyeur, the sadist, the sodomite, the fetishist, the pedophile, and the necrophiliac all expose hidden but essential elements of the social relation. Arguing that the concept of perversion, usually stigmatized, ought rather to be understood as a necessary stage in the development of all non-psychotic subjects, the essays in Perversion and the Social Relation consider the usefulness of the category of the perverse for exploring how social relations are formed, maintained, and transformed.

By focusing on perversion as a psychic structure rather than as aberrant behavior, the contributors provide an alternative to models of social interpretation based on classical Oedipal models of maturation and desire. At the same time, they critique claims that the perverse is necessarily subversive or liberating. In their lucid introduction, the editors explain that while fixation at the stage of the perverse can result in considerable suffering for the individual and others, perversion motivates social relations by providing pleasure and fulfilling the psychological need to put something in the place of the Father. The contributors draw on a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives—Freudian and Lacanian—as well as anthropology, history, literature, and film. From Slavoj Žižek's meditation on “the politics of masochism” in David Fincher's movie Fight Club through readings of works including William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, and William Burroughs's Cities of the Red Night, the essays collected here illuminate perversion's necessary role in social relations.

Contributors. Michael P. Bibler, Dennis A. Foster, Bruce Fink, Octave Mannoni, E. L. McCallum, James Penney, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Nina Schwartz, Slavoj Žižek

This collection is the first extended interrogation in any language of Jacques Lacan's Seminar XVII. Originally delivered just after the Paris uprisings of May 1968, Seminar XVII marked a turning point in Lacan’s thought; it was both a step forward in the psychoanalytic debates and an important contribution to social and political issues. Collecting important analyses by many of the major Lacanian theorists and practitioners, this anthology is at once an introduction, critique, and extension of Lacan’s influential ideas.

The contributors examine Lacan’s theory of the four discourses, his critique of the Oedipus complex and the superego, the role of primal affects in political life, and his prophetic grasp of twenty-first-century developments. They take up these issues in detail, illuminating the Lacanian concepts with in-depth discussions of shame and guilt, literature and intimacy, femininity, perversion, authority and revolt, and the discourse of marketing and political rhetoric. Topics of more specific psychoanalytic interest include the role of objet a, philosophy and psychoanalysis, the status of knowledge, and the relation between psychoanalytic practices and the modern university.

Contributors. Geoff Boucher, Marie-Hélène Brousse, Justin Clemens, Mladen Dolar, Oliver Feltham, Russell Grigg, Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, Dominique Hecq, Dominiek Hoens, Éric Laurent, Juliet Flower MacCannell, Jacques-Alain Miller, Ellie Ragland, Matthew Sharpe, Paul Verhaeghe, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

While over the past decade a number of scholars have done significant work on questions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered identities, this volume is the first to collect this groundbreaking work and make black queer studies visible as a developing field of study in the United States. Bringing together essays by established and emergent scholars, this collection assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior work on race and sexuality and highlights the theoretical and political issues at stake in the nascent field of black queer studies. Including work by scholars based in English, film studies, black studies, sociology, history, political science, legal studies, cultural studies, and performance studies, the volume showcases the broadly interdisciplinary nature of the black queer studies project.

The contributors consider representations of the black queer body, black queer literature, the pedagogical implications of black queer studies, and the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have solidified racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.

Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace

The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that "I think, therefore I am"—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito's agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes. Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which "I think, therefore I am" becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by "If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist."

Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian "subject of the unconscious," the contributors follow Lacan's plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject's confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett. In a style that has become familiar to Žižek's readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant's moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand's novels, from the question "Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?" to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.

Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.

Contributors. Miran Bozovic, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

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