Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity, and Feminism

Authored by: Kelly Oliver

The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138795921
eBook ISBN: 9781315758152
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter I will argue that traditional psychoanalytic theory has been instructive in formulating a developmental theory of subjectivity—that is, of our senses of ourselves as selves with agency—but it has neglected the social context of subjects and their subject positions—that is their historical and social positions in their culture—which is sometimes off-putting to feminist theorists. Nonetheless, there are various reasons why psychoanalysis can be extremely useful to feminists who are interested in subjectivity and in the relationships of social, historical, and political forces to subject formation. For at least the last twenty years feminist thinkers such as Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Teresa Brennan, Jane Gallop, Nancy Chodorow, Judith Butler, and Cynthia Willett—among others—have grappled with Freudian psychoanalysis in an attempt to bring its central insights into contemporary feminist contexts.

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