Lacan, Discourse, and Social Change: A Psychoanalytic Cultural Criticism

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Cornell University Press, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 204 pages

Convinced that cultural criticism need not merely be an academic exercise but can help improve people's lives, Mark Bracher proposes a method of cultural criticism which is based on the principles of psychoanalytic treatment and which aims to alter subjectivity and behavior.In this forceful and engagingly written book, Bracher first accounts for the failure of contemporary cultural criticism to achieve significant social impact. He then offers a model of analysis that draws on Lacan's theoretical insights into the structure of subjectivity and the psychological functions of discourse, asserting that the use of this model can promote collective psychological change. While cultural criticism has generally focused on texts, Bracher instead analyzes audiences' actual responses--to a variety of discourses from "high" as well as popular culture: the political speeches of Ronald Reagan and Jesse Jackson, anti-abortion propaganda, pornography, Keats's "To Autumn," and Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Through analyzing these responses, Bracher is able to uncover the unconscious identifications and fantasies of the respondents--an intervention that, he argues, has the potential for altering subjectivity. In his view, such a method of cultural criticism is both unusually powerful and ethnically defensible, since instead of attacking or upholding a group's values, it reveals the psychological conflicts manifest in responses to particular texts.Lacan, Discourse, and Social Change will be essential reading for students as well as specialists in such fields as cultural criticism, feminist theory, literary theory, psychoanalytic criticism, reader-response criticism, reader-response criticism, and Lacanian theory.

 

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Contents

Desire in Discourse
19
Social Change and the Ethics of Critical Discourse
53
Practice
61
Pornography
83
Antiabortionist Discourse
103
Political Campaign Rhetoric
119
Heart of Darkness
138
To Autumn
168
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About the author (1993)

Mark Bracher is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Literature and Psychoanalysis at Kent State University.

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