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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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‘Who are we when we read?’: Keats, Klein, Cixous, and Elizabeth Cook’s Achilles

‘Who are we when we read?’: Keats, Klein, Cixous, and Elizabeth Cook’s Achilles

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 ‘Who are we when we read?’: Keats, Klein, Cixous, and Elizabeth Cook’s Achilles
Source:
Laughing with Medusa
Author(s):

Vanda Zajko (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237944.003.0003

This chapter examines the part that identification plays in specifically feminist engagements with texts and how it has enabled mythical characters to provide such a potent resource for women. It uses a Kleinian model of identification to understand the trans-historical power of myth. In particular, it looks at the phenomenon of cross-gendered identification and explores its manifestation in a variety of poetic and theoretical contexts. The chapter focuses on one mythological character, the Homeric hero Achilles, and four very different texts: Elizabeth Cook's poetic novel Achilles; a letter of the poet John Keats in which he explains to his brother and sister-in-law why he hopes he will never marry; the French feminist theorist Hélène Cixous's ‘Sorties’ section of The Newly Born Woman; and Melanie Klein's extension of Freud's concept of phantasy, particularly as it relates to the unconscious.

Keywords:   myth, identification, feminism, Achilles, Elizabeth Cook, John Keats, poetry, Melanie Klein, Hélène Cixous, phantasy

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