Freud Essay Medusa

Freud Essay Medusa-50
Part IV, "Myth and Science" starts off with a fine essay by Duncan Kennedy, "Atoms, Individuals, and Myths," that draws parallels between the reductionism of sociobiology's claim that human behavior is a product of our genes, and the atomistic theories of Lucretius; both are examples of hierarchical thinking that can be challenged by feminism.

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Katie Fleming's "Fascism on Stage: Jean Anouilh's Antigone" explores the production of Anouilh's play both in terms of its historical context (France, 1944) and as a moment in the history of the reception of Sophocles' play.

Fleming's subtle reading of Anouilh identifies the political significance of a pointedly deliberate departure from the Sophoclean version which produces a character that is "the barest characterization of meaningless refusal" (169) and thus contradicts the post-war reception of Sophocles' heroine which includes her status as a feminist icon. In "A Woman's History of Warfare," Ellen O'Gorman investigates how both ancient and modern military historians ignore women -- a logical enough omission given women's peripheral or non-existent role in making war.

How can feminist historical revision deal with such exclusions?

O'Gorman approaches this question by considering how historical narratives can use women as causes of war; the most obvious -- and arguably the most complicated -- example is that of Helen.

The volume is divided into five sections in addition to a good introduction outlining the history of previous scholarship informing the project, a bibliography and general index.

The first three essays, grouped under the title "Myth and Psychoanalysis," critique Freud's use of mythology in his theorization of ego formation.This collection of fifteen essays plus one short piece of fiction combines both these intellectual enterprises in a unique and well-timed volume that presents feminist scholars from other disciplines alongside Classicists whose work has been informed by feminist theory.The project takes its title from the "The Laugh of Medusa," the foundational 1975 essay by feminist poststructuralist Helene Cixous.In a careful analysis of how the texts of Homer's Iliad and Euripides' Trojan Women deal with Helen's role as the "cause" of the war, this essay generates interesting questions about the fundamental meaning and articulation of causation.One of the most stimulating points in this paper is a reading of Helen's self-deprecating remarks (e.g.In a witty, perceptive analysis Sharrock focuses on an extended simile of a mother cow searching for her lost calf as a possible analog for the philosopher.Yet the atoms, points out Sharrock, the real agents of the poem are (despite their neuter grammatical gender), apparently male, or at least take on masculine roles such as soldiering.Rachel Bowlby sets the agenda with "The Cronus Complex: Psychoanalytic Myths of the Future for Boys and Girls." Bowlby confronts Freud's reading of Greek myth as a kind of history which facilitated a phallocentric theory of social development.Although her thesis should by now be self evident, Bowlby makes a competent case: that Freud, himself a product of a patriarchal culture, was influenced by a social construction of gender that is less relevant to modern children.In "Antigone and the Politics of Sisterhood," Simon Goldhill reflects on the centrality of Antigone to influential feminist projects such as those of Irigaray and Butler, but wonders why feminism has all but written her sister, Ismene, out of the text.Goldhill poses a challenge to recent analyses of Sophocles' tragedy by questioning why they privilege the relationship between brother and sister yet ignore Antigone's treatment of her sister.


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