Insane Passions: Lesbianism and Psychosis in Literature and Film

Insane Passions: Lesbianism and Psychosis in Literature and Film

by Christine Coffman
     
 

ISBN-10: 0819568198

ISBN-13: 9780819568199

Pub. Date: 12/12/2006

Publisher: Wesleyan University Press

In France in 1933, two sisters, presumed to be lovers, murdered the women who employed them as maids. Known as “the Papin affair,” the incident inspired not only Jean Genet's 1947 The Maids but also an essay by Jacques Lacan that presents the sisters' crime as fueled by a narcissistic, homosexual drive that culminated in the assault. In this new

Overview

In France in 1933, two sisters, presumed to be lovers, murdered the women who employed them as maids. Known as “the Papin affair,” the incident inspired not only Jean Genet's 1947 The Maids but also an essay by Jacques Lacan that presents the sisters' crime as fueled by a narcissistic, homosexual drive that culminated in the assault. In this new investigation of the roots of the twentieth-century myth of the lesbian-as-madwoman, Christine Coffman argues that the female psychotic was the privileged object of Lacan’s effort to derive a revolutionary theory of subjectivity from the study of mental illness. Examining Lacan's early writings, French surrealism, Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, and H.D.’s homoerotic fiction in light of feminist and queer theory, Insane Passions argues that the psychotic woman that fascinates modernist writers returns with a murderous vengeance in a number of late twentieth-century films—including Basic Instinct, Sister My Sister, Single White Female, and Murderous Maids. Marking the limit of social acceptability, the “psychotic lesbian” repeatedly appears as the screen onto which the violence and madness of twentieth-century life are projected.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819568199
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
12/12/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Marking the Limits of the Social
Writing the Papin Affair
Surrealism’s Lesbian Doubles
“What insane passion”: Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood
“Prophetess Faced Prophetess”: Madness and H.D.’s Prose
The Late Twentieth Century: Filming the Psychotic Queer Woman
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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