Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Elizabeth Hirsh

Keywords

discourse, power, psychoanalysis, subjectivity, unconscious

Abstract

Vita Sackville-West's autobiographical novel The Edwardians lends itself to a double reading: both Freudian and Foucauldian. The Freudian conflict between desire and prohibition plays out in the unresolved Oedipus complex of its protagonist Sebastian, son of the Duchess of Chevron; repression drives Sebastian's behavior in all his relationships. The novel also depicts an upper-class Edwardian society incited to discourse in a Foucauldian sense--a society in which sexual gossip functions as a discourse of power. From a psychoanalytic perspective, this incitement is produced by repression, and functions as a symptom of it. The relationship between repression and incitement suggests the possibility of a theoretical rapprochement between Freud and Foucault.

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