Femininity and Psychoanalysis

Femininity and Psychoanalysis: Cinema, Culture, Theory, edited by Agnieszka Piotrowska and Ben Tyrer, Routledge, 2019.

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For Freud, famously, the feminine was a dark continent, or a riddle without an answer. This understanding concerns man’s relationship to the question of ‘woman’ but femininity is also a matter of sexuality and gender and therefore of identity and experience. Drawing together leading academics, including film and literary scholars, clinicians and artists from diverse backgrounds, Femininity and Psychoanalysis: Cinema, Culture, Theory speaks to the continued relevance of psychoanalytic understanding in a social and political landscape where ideas of gender and sexuality are undergoing profound changes.

This transdisciplinary collection crosses boundaries between clinical and psychological discourse and arts and humanities fields to approach the topic of femininity from a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives. From object relations, to Lacan, to queer theory, the essays here revisit and rethink the debates over what the feminine might be. The volume presents a major new work by leading feminist film scholar, Elizabeth Cowie, in which she presents a first intervention on the topic of film and the feminine for over 20 years, as well as a key essay by the prominent artist and psychoanalyst, Bracha Ettinger.

Written by an international selection of contributors, this collection is an indispensable tool for film and literary scholars engaged with psychoanalysts and anybody interested in different approaches to the question of the feminine.


Table of Contents:

Introduction: Agnieszka Piotrowska and Ben Tyrer

Chapter 1: Elizabeth Cowie, The certainties of Difference and their difficulty: desire and the symptom

Chapter 2: Davina Quinlivan, Her Skin Against the Rocks, The Rocks Against the Sky: Revisiting Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) after Morley’s The Falling (2014) and Freud’s Fable of Female Hysteria

Chapter 3: Caroline Bainbridge, Growing up girl in the ‘hood: Vulnerability, violence and the girl-gang state of mind in Bande de Filles/Girlhood (Sciamma, France, 2014)

Chapter 4: Vicky Lebeau, Revisiting Joan Riviere

Chapter 5: Bracha L. Ettinger, Supplementary Jouissance and Feminine Sexual Rapport [1995]

Chapter 6: Nava Dushi and Igor Rodin, Self-Recreation Through the Uncanny Encounter: Reading the Feminine Close-Up in Cinema

Chapter 7: Allister Mactaggart, River’s Edge: The ebb and flow of feminine ex-sistence

Chapter 8: Ben Tyrer, Under Her Skin: On Woman without body and body without Woman

Chapter 9: Agnieszka Piotrowska and Joseph Jenner, Desire, Commitment and the Transformative Power of Touch: The Posthuman Femme Fatale in Under the Skin

Chapter 10: Wendy Leeks, AnnaMarilyn: Queer tales of femininity

Chapter 11. Sheila Cavanagh, Tiresias: Bracha L. Ettinger and the Transgression With-In-To the Feminine

Chapter 12: A.R. Price, A Specimen of a Commentary on Lacan’s ‘L’étourdit’

Chapter 13, Agnieszka Piotrowska: A #MeToo Moment in Communist Poland

Chapter 14, Pia Hylén – “Vulnerabilities” / “Ravage II”

‘This new and highly readable collection of psychoanalytic essays, which is edited by Agnieszka Piotrowska and Ben Tyrer, provides a timely look at the meanings of femininity and women’s desire as articulated in cinema through a range of stimulating and thought-provoking case studies and discussions. The book, which contains chapters from some notable authors in the field of feminist film scholarship and artistic and clinical practice (including Elizabeth Cowie, Bracha L. Ettinger, Vicky Lebeau and Caroline Bainbridge), deploys the ideas of Freud, Lacan, Klein, Riviere, Horney, Deutsch and Irigaray in order to unpack the complexities of the relationships between femininity, psychoanalysis and difference that will be of great interest to students and researchers who continue to tussle with the meanings of femininity in the contemporary cultural arena of cinema and beyond. The collection covers a lot of ground – revisiting older debates about the feminist politics of visual pleasure but adds a new layer of complexity to those earlier discussions by relating them to psychosocial and cultural concerns in contemporary contexts where the vexed relationship between intersectionality and psychoanalysis often comes to the fore. In so doing, the collection demonstrates its cultural and political relevance by paying attention to the unconscious dynamics of representation and to the raced and classed dimensions of cinematic experience and its relationship to wider processes of power and ideology.’ Candida Yates, Professor of Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University, UK

‘This collective effort to think and rethink the psychoanalytic take on femininity could not come at a more appropriate time. Femininity and Psychoanalysis: Cinema, Culture, Theory pursues different facets of this question in a formidably interesting way, following a wide range of authors and critical approaches. A truly engaged and engaging volume.’ – Alenka Zupancic, Professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, author of What Is Sex?