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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

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

Vanda Zajko (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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