With Sigmund Freud flummoxed about what women want, any encounter between psychoanalysis and feminism would seem to promise a standoff. Yet, Mari Jo Buhle argues that the 20th-century's two great theories of liberation actually had a great deal to tell each other. Starting with Freud's 1909 speech to an audience that included the feminist and radical Emma Goldman, Buhle recounts the twists and turns this exchange took in the United States up to the 1990s American vogue of Jacques Lacan. While chronicling the contributions of feminism to the development of psychoanalysis, she also makes a case for the benefits psychoanalysis brought to feminism.
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(225mm x 144mm x 29mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
An idea-laden work about the ongoing 20th-century dialogue in America between psychoanalysis and feminism. Buhle (American Civilization/Brown Univ.) focuses more on feminism, covering a dazzling spectrum of thinkers and polemicists, ranging from Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Barbara Ehrenreich, with admirable clarity and succinctness. Her reach in terms of American (and, in the closing chapter, French) classical, neo-, and post-Freudian writing by women and men on women's psychosexual development is equally impressive, extending from the eloquently outspoken "culturist" pioneer Karen Homey to the contemporary Lacanian Julia Kristeva. She is particularly strong on the "feminine mystique" era of the 1940s and '50s, when mainstream American psychoanalysis took a decidedly conservative, antifeminist turn. Now and then, Buhle overinterprets or misinterprets a text, such as Betty Friedan's statement in The Second Stage that "To deny the part of one's being that, through the ages, has been expressed in motherhood . . . is to deny one's personhood as a woman." And toward the book's end, Buhle neglects the influential contributions of Norman O. Brown. Yet few scholars would attempt a comprehensive intellectual history on such a charged topic. Buhle has done so in this informative scholarly feat. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Mari Jo Buhle
Mari Jo Buhle, a MacArthur Fellow, is Harrison S. Kravis Professor of American Civilization and History at Brown University.