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The Case of J. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s ‘Carmilla’
Michael Davis

This article proposes a reading of Le Fanu‘s ‘Carmilla’ in relation to the ideas of the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, particularly Laplanche‘s notion of the enigmatic signifier. Laplanche refigures the inauguration of human sexuality as a failure on the infant‘s behalf to meaningfully translate the enigmatic messages received from the adult world, which, Laplanche argues, are freighted with unconscious sexual meaning. Unable to fully metabolise these enigmatic signifiers, the infant is prone to trauma, as the un-translated residues of the adults address sink into the unconscious to form powerful unconscious fantasies that continue to trouble the subject. A parallel is drawn here with Laura‘s relationship with the mysterious but alluring Carmilla, whose enigmatic desire both fascinates and repels Le Fanu‘s narrator from the moment of Laura‘s childhood trauma but whose enigmatic language remains indecipherable. Carmilla herself is finally seen as the allegorical figure of the Gothic itself: profoundly enigmatic and potentially traumatising.

Gothic Studies
Abstract only
Douglas Morrey and Alison Smith

child’s discovery of sex took the form of an aggressive seduction on the part of an adult, at an age when the child was unable to understand or consciously assimilate the event (Laplanche and Pontalis 1985 : 23–4). Freud later revised his theory to suggest that the traumatic event was in fact the child’s witnessing of the parents’ coitus, the so-called ‘primal scene’ (Laplanche and Pontalis 1985 : 40–1). Unable to determine

in Jacques Rivette
Peter William Evans

. Inspired by Laplanche, he writes of the personality as having systolic and diastolic impulses ( 2000 : 205). For the patient who seeks in analysis release from narcissism, Philips refers to Laplanche’s stress on a deconstruction of the old, a subversion of the coherent story of the self constructed by the patient. Deconstruction prepares the ground for a new construction. Most importantly, according to Laplanche, in his or her

in Carol Reed
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body and sexuality in reverse motion
James S. Williams

, according to Shaviro, can offer the intoxicated viewing body a ‘shattering’ masochistic pleasure of obsessive passivity and abjection due to the spectactor’s abandonment to free-floating sensation and visual fascination. Shaviro’s concept of masochism in film has little to do with the elaborate contracts of Sacher-Masoch. Underpinning his idea of masochistic excitement is fean Laplanche’s theory that fantasy, or the imaginary

in Jean Cocteau
Abstract only
Valentina Vitali

clear are the mechanisms by which history writes itself into a film, how ‘the dynamics animating historical change “present” in representations’ (Willemen 2010: 252). In psychoanalysis the term fantasy refers to an ‘imaginary scene in which the subject is a protagonist, representing the fulfilment of a[n unconscious] wish in a manner that is distorted to a greater or lesser extent by defensive processes’ (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973: 314). This notion of fantasy as the distorted expression of an unconscious wish can provide an opening towards understanding how films

in Capital and popular cinema
Douglas Morrey

status of the primal scene is open to question, the event located somewhere between a real childhood experience that is neither understood nor assimilated and a false , falsely remembered or fantasised, experience later in life. As Laplanche and Pontalis comment, sexuality thus emerges in ‘une dialectique entre le trop et le trop peu de l’excitation, le trop tôt et le trop tard de l’événement’ 40 (Laplanche and Pontalis

in Jean-Luc Godard
Lisa Downing

coiffeuse represents an example of cinematic afterwardsness , a term he borrows from the post-Freudian psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche who used it to translate Freud’s Nachträglichkeit. Afterwardsness signifies the process by which deferred meaning and affect are activated only by a second occurrence of a meaningful event (i.e. the sexual nature of Antoine’s feelings for Mme Schaeffer are only realized once he meets Mathilde

in Patrice Leconte