Maternity, abjection, love, and revolutionary language
Akers, Heather Shea
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This dissertation explores Kristeva’s theoretical work on individuation, relationships, encounters with horror, and art and artisanship, as they are anticipated and dramatized in the novels of D. H. Lawrence. In contrast to the modernist and feminist scholars in the last few decades who have criticized both Lawrence and Kristeva for an apparent tendency towards essentialism, in this project I counter that both novelist and psychoanalyst attempt to destroy such binary oppositions as man / woman, body / mind, and emotion / reason, even as both make statements that at first may appear to be self-contradictory. By examining the novels of Lawrence alongside Kristeva’s theories, I show points where Lawrence’s work can benefit from a psychoanalytic approach that relies on more neo-Freudian and neo-Lacanian modes of understanding. The arrangement of the dissertation’s chapters will follow a developmental model, beginning with Lawrence’s characters in their childhood encounters with the mother, moving through their efforts to forge separate identity while encountering the universal horror of the abject, exploring their desires to merge with another in romantic union, and finally discussing their perspectives on motherhood and their roles as artists, both conventional and revolutionary.