From the complexification of relations between fact and fiction, through Orlando’s unassignable 'androgyny', to her staging of ambivalence and her stylistic uses of tensions, Woolf’s craftswomanship bears witness to what I call the ‘irreducible heterogeneity’ of lived experience and embodiment. Her accommodation of manifoldness and contradiction materialises a resistance to elucidation that is as much ethically as it is aesthetically provoking.
Psychoanalysis has been interested in Woolf’s treatment of ‘that queer conglomeration of incongruous things – the modern mind’ (‘Poetry, Fiction & the Future’, E4, 436) from the 1930s. From the 1970s onwards, feminist critics of Woolf reinvested various psychoanalytic frameworks such as Freud’s, object-relation theory and, from the 1980s, Lacanian, and post-Lacanian interpretation. It is the latter set of intersections that my thesis investigates. To what extent have Woolf’s 1980s-2010s psychoanalytic receptions been hospitable to her propositions?
Analysing Woolf’s Anglophone and Francophone psychoanalytic and especially Lacanian, receptions, my thesis argues that, more often than not, her feminist and non-binary ethics have either been obscured, othered, or commodified, by oedipal perspectives. In turn, what does an ethical conversation between Woolf’s work and psychoanalysis look like? Drawing on metacritical approaches, I make the case for a reading method that starts from, addresses, and incorporates, what oedipal theory has participated in othering. Expanding on Woolf’s dream of a ‘fluid’ criticism (D5, 298, 22 June 1940), André Green’s call for a ‘subjective epistemology’ (Green 1992, 14), and on recent investigations of ‘reparative’ (Sedgwick) reading in queer practices, I explore the possibility of a reparative psychoanalytic criticism.