Performance Anxieties looks at the on-going debates over the value of psychoanalysis for feminist theory and politics--specifically concerning the social and psychical meanings of racialization. Beginning with an historicized return to Freud and the meaning of Jewishness in Freud's day, Ann Pellegrini indicates how "race" and racialization are not incidental features of psychoanalysis or of modern subjectivity, but are among the generative conditions of both.
Performance Anxieties stages a series of playful encounters between elite and popular performance texts--Freud meets Sarah Bernhardt meets Sandra Bernhard; Joan Riviere's masquerading women are refigured in relation to the hard female bodies in the film Pumping Iron II: The Women; and the Terminator and Alien films. In re-reading psychoanalysis alongside other performance texts, Pellegrini unsettles relations between popular and elite, performance and performative.
"Performance Anxieties offers deft readings of key texts in the psychoanalytic literature in ways that are both clarifying and compelling, while also pulling the texts consistently toward the social and historical by applying their insights to representation." -- Signs