1st Edition

First Things
Reading the Maternal Imaginary

ISBN 9780415903844
Published December 20, 1995 by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $46.95

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Book Description

In First Things Mary Jacobus combines close readings with theoretical concerns in an examination of the many forms taken by the mythic or phantasmic mother in literary, psychoanalytic and artistic representations.

She carefully explores the ways in which the maternal imaginary informs both unconscious processes and signifying practices at all levels. Her fierce analysis of specific texts and paintings raises questions about the the symbolic and biological maternal body and how they relate to each other in literary and psychoanalytic terms. The invocation of writings by Kleist, Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Malthus and de Sade, along with analysis of French revolutionary iconography and Realist and Impressionist paintings by Eakins and Morisot, make this wide-ranging text a truly interdisciplinary study.

First Things sees literary theory and psychoanalysis as mutually illuminating practices. The work of Freud, Klein, Kristeva and Bion shape an inquiry into such topics as population discourse, surrogate motherhood, AIDS, mastectomy and psychoanalysis itself. In addition, Jacobus elaborates on Freud's oedipal preconceptions, Klein's missing theory of signs, memory, melancholia, narcissism and maternal reverie.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments -- Preface -- Part I Preconceptions -- 1. Freud’s Mnemonic: Screen Memories and Feminist Nostalgia -- 2. In Parenthesis: Immaculate Conceptions and Feminine Desire -- 3. Russian Tacics: Freud’s “Case of Homosexuality in a Woman” -- Part II Melancholy Figures -- 4. In Love with a Cold Climate: Travelling with Wollstonecraft -- 5. Makhus, Matricide, and the Marquis de Sade -- 6. Replacing the Race oi Mothers: AlI)S and The Las Man -- Part III The Origin of Signs -- 7. “Tea Daddy”: Poor Mrs. Klein and the Pencil Shavings -- 8. “‘Cos of the Horse”: The Origin of Questions -- 9. Poi-trait of the Artist as a Young Dog -- Part IV Theory at the Breast -- 10. Incorruptible Milk: Breast-feeding and the French Revolution -- 11. Baring the Breast: Mastectomy and the Surgical Analogy -- 12. Narcissa’s Gaze: Berthe Morisot and the Filial Mirror -- Index.

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Mary Jacobus is John Wendell Anderson Professor of English at Cornell University.