The intellectual connection between James Baldwin and Lionel Trilling, and the resonances
across their criticism, are more substantial than scholarly and biographical treatments
have disclosed. For Trilling, Baldwin’s writings were notable for their deviation from
most humanistic inquiry, which he considered insufficiently alert to the harms and
depredations of culture. Baldwin’s work became for Trilling a promising indication that
American criticism could be remade along the lines of a tragic conception of culture
deriving from Freud. This essay concentrates on a relevant but neglected dynamic in
American letters—the mid-twentieth-century tension between Freudian thought and American
humanistic inquiry evident in fields like American Studies—to explain the intellectual
coordinates within which Trilling developed an affinity for Baldwin’s work. The
essay concludes by suggesting that the twilight of Freud’s tragic conception of
culture, which figured centrally in the modernist critical environment in which
Baldwin and Trilling encountered one another, contributed to an estrangement whereby the
two came to be seen as unrelated and different kinds of critics, despite the consonance of
their critical idioms during the 1940s and 1950s.
This article uses Franco Moretti‘s interpretation of Frankenstein and Dracula (Signs Taken For Wonders, 1988) to interrogate Dennis Potter‘s final television play, Cold Lazarus (1996). The critical approach, following Moretti‘s example, is generic, Freudian and Marxist. By identifying the conventions of Gothic drama in Potter‘s play, it claims, firstly, that Cold Lazarus dramatizes deep-seated psychic neuroses; and secondly, alerts its viewers to contemporary cultural anxieties about individual autonomy and the exploitative nature of capitalist enterprise. The argument challenges the predominantly negative reception of Cold Lazarus when first screened in 1994 and aims to defend this play as a fine example of televisual Gothic drama.
This paper explores the occult relationship between modern psychoanalysis and the pre-Freudian psychoanalysis of James Hogg‘s 1824 Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Haunted by the ghosts of Mesmerism and of Calvinisms rabidly contagious religious fervour, Hogg‘s novel explodes post-Lockean paradigms of the subject for a post-Romantic British culture on the eve of the Empire. Turning back to Scotland‘s turbulent political and religious history, the novel looks forward to the problems of Empire by turning Locke‘s sense-making and sensible subject into the subject of an unconscious ripe for ideological exploitation, a subject mesmerized by the process of making sense of himself.
In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.
The late twentieth century is fascinated by the phenomenon of the gothic child, the child who manifests evil, violence, and sexual aggression. On the face of it, this evil is “caused” by either medical or social factors: medicinal drugs, radiation, or the corrupting influences,of political others. However, this essay argues that the gothic child actually arises from conflicting forces of child-philosophies, the intersection of Romantic childhood innocence with Freudian depth models. These models tacitly point to a child that “is” rather than “is,made”, a child that belies contemporary parental attempts to make it be otherwise. Moreover, the idea that the child is somehow immune to parental influence – that it is self-possessed rather than possessed by another – extends to the current notion of,the “inner child”, that “self” who is the seat of identity and coherence. Because of this, the gothic as often fantasizes the killing of the “child within” as it revels in killing the child without.
of Freud's ideas concern aspects of sexuality. Infantile sexuality , for instance, is the notion that sexuality begins not at puberty, with physical maturing, but in infancy, especially through the infant's relationship with the mother. Connected with this is the Oedipus complex , whereby, says Freud, the male infant conceives the desire to eliminate the father and become the sexual partner of the mother. Many forms of inter-generational conflict are seen by Freudians as having Oedipal overtones, such as professional rivalries, often viewed in Freudian terms as
Lewis Namier was one of the most important historians of the twentieth century. His work on the politics of the 1760s, based on the ‘scientific’ analysis of a mass of contemporary documents, and emphasising the material and psychological elements of human motivation, was seen by contemporaries as ’revolutionary’ and remains controversial. It gave a new word to the English language: to Namierise. Moreover, Namier played a major role in public affairs, in the Foreign Office, 1915–20, and in the Zionist Organisation in the 1930s, and was close to many of the leading figures of his day. This is the first biography of Namier for half a century, and the first to integrate all aspects of his life and thought. Based on a comprehensive range of sources, including the entire corpus of Namier’s writings, it provides a full account of his background, examines his role in politics and reconstructs his work as a historian, showing the origins and development of his ideas about the past, and the subjects which preoccupied him: nationalism, empire, and the psychology of individuals and groups. Namier’s life and writings illuminate many of the key events of the twentieth century, his belief in the power of nationalism and the importance of national territory, foreshadowing problems which still beset our own world.
Going to Tara via Vienna: Joyce and
the Freudian Bildungsroman
In the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, beginning with James
Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), the Irish Catholic
Bildungsroman functioned as a crucial site on which Irish culture
thought about, worried over and negotiated the connection between
sexuality and modernity. Across that period, this genre provided a
cultural vehicle through which the twentieth-century Freudian model of
sexuality interacted with an older, reproductive model that was principally mediated
generation. Although not all reflections back to the
Algerian revolution are entirely nostalgic, on the whole this period of
history – before the amnesia or hypermnesia overseen by the FLN
– stands as a lost ideal, in Freudian terms a lost object. One might
say that recent Algerian cinema mourns this ideal, since mourning is a
reaction to ‘the loss of a loved person, or to the loss of some
abstraction which has taken the place of
Adaptation and reception of Andrea Newman’s A Bouquet of Barbed
dramatisations correspond with their respective zeitgeists, these
reflecting differences in attitudes towards incest. In sum, the 1976
version conveys the child figure as seductive and manipulative in line
with Freudian concepts of phantasy, as if cohering with concurrent
patriarchal perceptions of incest. Here, incest remains implicit, its
suppression being signalled through technical aspects such as framing