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Laughing with MedusaClassical Myth and Feminist Thought$
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Vanda Zajko and Miriam Leonard

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237944.001.0001

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Beyond Oedipus: Feminist Thought, Psychoanalysis, and Mythical Figurations of the Feminine

Beyond Oedipus: Feminist Thought, Psychoanalysis, and Mythical Figurations of the Feminine

Chapter:
(p.67) 3 Beyond Oedipus: Feminist Thought, Psychoanalysis, and Mythical Figurations of the Feminine
Source:
Laughing with Medusa
Author(s):

Griselda Pollock

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237944.003.0004

If Virginia Woolf is icon of and legend for later 20th-century feminist theory, Jane Harrison transformed a phallic lack into a feminist legacy. While many intellectual women engaged with psychoanalysis soon after its initiation and many radically revised Freud's theses of the Oedipus complex, none truly challenged the fundamental premises of its ultimately defining role around the theme of castration in human subjectivity that frames our concepts of sexual difference and sexuality. This chapter examines feminist thought, modernity and femininity, and mythical configurations of the feminine. It looks beyond Freud's particular relationship with Oedipus to the figure of Antigone and discusses how Antigone's relationship to her brother Polyneices can be reconfigured as an unconditional bond to the maternal other. The model of trans-subjective suffering found in Antigone demonstrates the continuing power of classical myth to question the premises of psychoanalysis even as it has inspired them.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Jane Harrison, psychoanalysis, classical myth, Oedipus complex, feminist thought, castration, Antigone, femininity, modernity

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