Cluster 7: Psychoanalytic Criticism
OK, in this last installment we’ll be covering clusters 7, 8 and 9. Just in case you'd like to review, here are the first and second installments. I’m in a hurry, so we’re going to have to make this quick.
Cluster 7 is concerned with Freudian literary criticism. Key terms include displacement, projection and introjections, the uncanny, the unconscious, psychological repression, Oedipus complex, condensation, sublimation, and the arche. I'm sure you're familiar with some of these terms from your New Age psychobabble self-help books. Just be careful not to confuse Freudianism with the more popular "vulgar Freudianism."
And if we’re going to talk about Freud, we’ll also have to spend some time on Carl Jung and his analytical psychology and notion of the collective unconscious. Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye borrowed Jung’s collective unconscious and applied it to literature, producing what is now known as archetypal literary criticism. Some key terms of his include the four mythoi (romance, tragedy, comedy and satire) and menippean satire.
Next is Michel Foucault. Key terms: sexuality, archaeology of knowledge, panopticon, episteme (2), and transgression strategy. Again, some of the links might not exactly match up, so you may have to do a little sifting.
Thanks to Slavok Zizek, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has been revived in recent years. His key ideas: structure of the psyche (the real, the imaginary, the symbolic), imaginary/symbolic/real, other, name-of-the-father, the gaze, and desire/lack. Also see Slavok Zizek’s “How to Read Lacan,” which is available on this most excellent site.
There’s also Bulgarian-French philosopher and critic Julia Kristeva, whose key terms include: the semiotic and symbolic, phenotext and genotext, and abjection. You’ll also want to look into Melanie Klein’s object-relations theory.
Cluster 8: Postmodernism
Now on to postmodernism. Because postmodernism is more of a historical condition than a particular theory of philosophy or art, I’ve included only two names in this cluster. The first is late French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard, who famously said postmodernism is characterized by a general skepticism toward metanarratives and totalization. The other is American Marxist Frederic Jameson. Here’s a summary of his works; some of his key terms: late capitalism, the political unconscious, the postmodern condition, pastiche, strategy of containment, and ideologeme.
Cluster 9: Feminism and Gender
Finally, there’s feminism and gender. I think H. Bloom refers to this as the "school of resentment." Some of their key terms: sexism, misogyny, homophobia, androgyny, and phallogocentrism. Feminist and gender criticism has its roots in Engels, who was among the first to examine Europe’s patriarchal system. You’ll also want to look at these key terms: patriarchy in feminism, matriarchy, androcentric/gynocentric, and phallocentrism.
Also familiarize yourself with the Bloomsbury group, the Fabian Society (which included E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf), and Kate Millet and the radical feminists. You’ll also want to look into Elain Showalter’s notion of gynocriticism, and critic Toril Moi, and Linda Hutcheon’s narcissistic narrative.
Oh, and don't leave out A.D. Nutall’s notion of transparent criticism (eg, Aristotle's formal descriptions) vs. opaque criticism (eg, Derrida's criticism), and Judith Butler on performativity. And while you’re on Butler you might want to take a look at her writings on Zionism.
Also look at Belgian feminist Luce Irigaray and her logic of the same, and Ecriture feminine. Also: Judith Fetterley's notion of resistant reading, and interrogation.
Lastly, we’ll finish this cluster off with a little gay and lesbian criticism, looking at American critic Eve Sedgwick and her notions of homosocial and homodiegetic storytelling.
This concludes our three-part lesson, Mother. You can go back to your New Age self-help books now, hopefully with a new perspective. To review, here are Lessons 1 and 2.
Your dutiful son,