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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Buren, J. (1994). The Engendering of Female Subjectivity. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(2):109-125.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(2):109-125

The Engendering of Female Subjectivity

Van Jane Buren, Ph.D.

Psychoanalytic theory has followed the arc of post-modernist culture in loosening its allegiances to nineteenth-century ideas about the role of biological forces, including the making of sexual identity and what would be designated as gender. One of the main currents of modernism was the undoing of the hold of realism, an exercising of its mimetic functions, and the undermining of the belief in the solidity of the surface whether presented on canvas, film, or in language. Postmodernism challenged the stability or fixity of meanings and structures, postulating that meanings were always in the process of evolution and could be grasped only through the play of the signifier or the means of representation.

Freud contributed to the zeitgeist of his time by continuing the spirit of the rebelliousness of the political revolutionaries and Romantic poets, and by posing scientific epistemology against superstition and traditionally based or rational systems of thought in religion and philosophy. Even more modernist, in keeping with the work of European painters, was his discovery of the manifest and latent levels of consciousness. Freud provided superb demonstrations of the functioning of two layers of consciousness in his explanations of the workings of dreams, jokes, and slips and their coded meanings that might be deciphered through free association and the dream work, particularly displacement and condensation. Here he dealt a heavy blow to the older beliefs in formalism (Freud 1900, 1901).

Freud's psychoanalytic theory of mental functioning provided the germ of contemporary notions of subjectivity. More than an appreciation of individual experience and the related perspectives, he presented us with major blueprints for a new map of subjectivity as a complex of ideas, feelings, wishes housed in dreams, fantasies, symptoms, and speech, which are always metamorphosing through the pressure of desire (libido).


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