Literary Approach - Lacanian Criticism

The Norton Introduction to Poetry
Editor: J. Paul Hunter, University of Chicago
(Norton & Company, 1999)

The Norton Introduction to Poetry: Lacanian Criticism

University of Chicago professor emeritus J. Paul Hunter defines critical approaches to evaluating poetry and prose in this excellent text published by Norton & Company. The book is now in its ninth edition with contributing editors Alison Booth, University of Virginia, and Kelly J. Mays, University of Nevada.

“Based on the work of Jacques Lacan. Accepting the Oedipal paradigm and the unconscious as the realm of repressed desire, Lacanian psychology conflates these concepts with the deconstructionist emphasis on language as expressing absence—you use a word to represent an absent object but you cannot make it present. The word, then, like the unconscious desire, is something that cannot be fulfilled. Language, reaching out with one word after the other, striving for but never reaching its object, is the arena of desire.”

Famous for a controversial method of psychoanalysis, Lacan can be interpreted like any work of literature. His theories are a manifestation of Western culture and Roman Catholic indoctrination. Repression may spur creative impulses, yet the assumption that words seek a pathway to undefined fulfillment defies credibility.