Unspeakable Secrets and the Psychoanalysis of Culture

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SUNY Press, Aug 7, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 260 pages
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Esther Rashkin argues that psychoanalysis galvanizes, as no other discipline can, an understanding of texts in their social, historical, and political contexts. Demonstrating that close reading can be a radical political practice, she exposes heretofore unseen ideologies concealed in works of film and literature, from Last Tango in Paris to The Picture of Dorian Gray, from Barthes’s Mythologies and Balzac’s Sarrasine to Babette’s Feast. Psychoanalytic concepts such as identification with the aggressor, the crypt, cryptonymy, illness of mourning, and the phantom allow Rashkin to reveal how shameful and unspeakable secrets propel the narratives she examines. In the process, she convincingly makes the case for a new practice of psychoanalytic cultural studies, a practice that fully engages with the politicized discourses—anti-Semitism, racism, colonialism, censorship—that mark a text’s location in history.

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A Recipe for Mourning in Babettes Feast
Crypts Colonialism and Collaborationin Last Tango in Paris
3 Haunted ChildrenCultural Catastrophe and Phantom Transmissionsin the Dirty War and the Holocaust
4 Religious Transvestism and the Stigma of Jewish Identity
Symbolism and the Occulted Jewin Villiers de lIsleAdams Axl
6 Imperial Legacies and the Art of Abuse in The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Ghost of Cultural Studies

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About the author (2008)

Esther Rashkin is Professor of French and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Utah and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. She is the author of Family Secrets and the Psychoanalysis of Narrative.

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