What is psychoanalysis talking about when it is talking about ‘Virginia Woolf’? My research explores the impact of French and English psychoanalytic discourses on Woolf’s works using feminist, queer, and phenomenological lenses, from the late 1980s to the 2010s. What has emerged is that, more often than not, Woolf’s explorations of human experience have suffered rather than benefitted from the application of psychoanalytic frameworks to literary analysis. Lacanian theory, in particular, is rather inhospitable to what I have called the ‘irreducible heterogeneity’ at work in Woolf’s texts. On the other hand, Woolf’s poetics frustrate oedipal scenarios and undermine the founding psychoanalytic metaphor of the phallus.
The project expands on my MA dissertation ‘The Whole, the Hole and the Border: Ethics and Aesthetics of the Frame in To The Lighthouse (1927)’ in which I try and show how Woolf’s widening of the signifier/signified gap makes the unspeakable palpable.