Fascism and female melancholia : the lure of fascism for the female subject in psychoanalytic theory, German literature and film / by Linda Marie Von Hoene.
Psychoanalytic theories of fascism have taken the male subject as their primary object of inquiry. Based on normative Freudian and post-Freudian notions of femininity that situate women in the pre-symbolic, these theories have been unable to adequately account for the relationship of the female subject to fascism. This dissertation explores the lure of fascism for the female subject from a feminist psychoanalytic perspective. Building on Kaja Silverman's theory of the mother of the negative Oedipus complex, this study demonstrates that, for certain women, fascism functions as an illusory site of ideality through which the female subject attempts to overcome the melancholia of normative femininity. Chapters one and two examine psychoanalytic theories of fascism posited by Reich, Horkheimer, Adorno, Theweleit, and Kristeva. The author explores the extent to which the female subject represented in the work of these theorists functions as a projection of male fantasies, or is portrayed as a subject in her own right in relationship to fascism. Chapters three, four, and five analyze literary and filmic texts (Christa Wolf's Kindheitsmuster , Peter Handke's Wunschloses Unglück, and Helma Sanders-Brahms' Deutschland, bleiche Mutter) through the lens of Kaja Silverman's theory of the mother of the negative Oedipus complex, the symbolic mother prior to her devaluation who is both emulated and desired by the daughter. The author argues that fascism functions as a space in which the female subject attempts to overcome the double burden of lack that characterizes normative femininity by constructing an idealized image of herself or of the “mother who once was” as an alternate site of narcissistic identification. Because this idealized figure is recuperated from a position that denies both symbolic and Oedipal loss, the process of her construction resonates with the imaginary longings of fascism. The author posits an alternate figure, the “mother of critical ideality,” who, if available in the current symbolic, can function as a third term in assisting the female subject in breaking with these identifications. This study also demonstrates the repercussions for the female subject and for the construction of the memory of fascism when this figure of critical ideality is lacking.
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