The Feminine

The Feminine "No!": Psychoanalysis and the New Canon

by Todd McGowan
Pub. Date:
State University of New York Press

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The Feminine "No!": Psychoanalysis and the New Canon

Attempts to understand recent changes in the canon of American literature through the aid of psychoanalytic theory.

The Feminine “No!” sheds new light on the recent culture wars and debates about changes to the literary canon. Todd McGowan argues that the dynamics of canon change, rather than being the isolated concern of literary critics, actually offer concrete insights into the source of social change. Through a deployment of psychoanalytic theory, McGowan conceives the rediscovery and subsequent canonization of previously forgotten literary works as recoveries of past traumas. As such, these rediscoveries call into question and disrupt not only the canon itself, but also the mechanisms of ideology, precisely because trauma is shown to be the key to radical social change. The book focuses on four of the most prominent rediscoveries in the canon of American literature: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper,” Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780791448748
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 11/28/2000
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 5.89(w) x 8.99(h) x 0.37(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Canon Wars and Psychoanalysis

1 The Canonical Unconscious

2 Dispossessing the Self: “The Yellow Wall-paper” and the Renunciation of Property

3 The Awakening of Desire, or, Why Edna Pontellier Isn't a Man

4 Acting without the Father: Charles Chesnutt's New Aristocrat

5 Liberation and Domination: Their Eyes Were Watching God and the Evolution of Capitalism

6 Agency and the Traumatic Encounter: Politics after Poststructuralism


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