Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 2 figures Published: July 2000

Gender and Sexuality > Sex and Sexuality, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory

Contemporary discourse seems to provide a choice in the way sexual identities and sexual difference are described and analyzed. On the one hand, much current thinking suggests that sexual identity is fluid—socially constructed and/or performatively enacted. This discourse is often invoked in the act of overcoming an earlier patriarchal era of fixed and naturalized identities. On the other hand, some modern discourses of sexual identity seem to offer a New Age Jungian re-sexualization of the universe—"Men are from Mars, and women are from Venus"—according to which there is an underlying, deeply anchored archetypal identity that provides a kind of safe haven in the contemporary confusion of roles and identities.

In this volume, contributors discuss a third way of thinking about sexual identity and sexual difference—a direction opened by Jacques Lacan. For Lacan, what we all recognize as sexual difference is first and foremost representative of a certain fundamental deadlock inherent in the symbolic order, that is, in language and in the entire realm of culture conceived as a symbol system structured on the model of language. For him, the logical matrix of this deadlock is provided by his own formulas of sexuation. The essays collected here elaborate on different aspects of this deadlock of sexual difference. While some examine the role of semblances in the relation between the sexes or consider sexual identity not as anatomy but still involving an impasse of the real, others discuss the difference between sexuation and identification, the role of symbolic prohibition in the process of the subject’s sexual formation, or the changed role of the father in contemporary society and the impact of this change on sexual difference. Other essays address such topics as the role of beating in sexual fantasies and jouissance in feminine jealousy.

Contributors. Alain Badiou, Elizabeth Bronfen, Darian Leader, Jacques Alain Miller, Genevieve Morel, Renata Salecl, Eric L. Santner, Colette Soler, Paul Verhaeghe, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic


Sexuation is an excellent collection that does demonstrate the richness and depth of thought arising from Lacan’s original matrix qua the failures of sexed beings. . . . Fiercely combative, brushing aside charges of staidness, or conservatism with its presentation of another way to think through sexual difference, the No of the Father, femininity outside the phallic economy, and of course Love.” — Craig Smith , Metapsychology Online Reviews

"[T]his book will be welcome given the diverse topics, intentions, and fascinating analysis. . . . [I]nteresting. . . ."
— Nancy L. Ashton , NWSA Journal

“Many of today’s leading Lacanians—practicing psychoanalysts as well as cultural theorists—here puzzle out the new riddles of sexuality. Does Lacan’s concept of ‘sexuation’ really answer to feminist and queer discourses on sex and gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, performativity? These provocative essays will begin the debate.” — John Brenkman, author of Straight Male Modern: A Cultural Critique of Psychoanalysis

“Sex or gender? This false alternative, which has long befuddled the theorization of femininity and sexual difference, is exploded by this excellent collection. Relying on Lacan's eventful revision of Freud, the essays analyze various aspects and implications of the a-biological, a-constructivist process of "sexuation" by which the subject emerges, embodied and sexed, from its encounter with the Other. A bonfire of a book whose strong, often brilliant analyses generate a heat sufficient to warm a multitutude of feminist and political debates.” — Joan Copjec, University at Buffalo, State University of New York


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Renata Salecl is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. She is the author of The Spoils of Freedom: Psychoanalysis and Feminism After the Fall of Socialism and (Per)versions of Love and Hate.

Table of Contents Back to Top
I. Sexual Difference

On Semblances in the Relation Between the Sexes / Jacques-Alain Miller

Psychoanalytical Anatomy / Genevieve Morel

The Curse on Sex / Colette Soler

II. Paternal Prohibition

Freud’s Moses and the Ethics of Nomotropic Desire / Eric L. Santner

Beating Fantasies and Sexuality / Darian Leader

The Collapse of the Function of the Father and Its Effect on Gender Roles / Paul Verhaeghe

III. Feminine Exception

Feminine Jealousies / Genevieve Morel

Noir Wagner / Elisabeth Bronfen

The Thing from Inner Space / Slavoj Zizek

IV. Love

What Is Love? / Alain Badiou

The Case of the Perforated Sheet / Alenka Zupancic

Love and Sexual Difference: Doubled Partners in Men and Women / Renata Salecl
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2473-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2437-9
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