CFP: [Theory]

full name / name of organization: 
ashley allison griffin
contact email: 

“Warner’s American Subject: A Psychoanalysis of the Displaced Subject”
   After America’s independence severed ties with England, America no
longer identifies itself as a colony of the empire but as a mixture of
numerous nationalities. For the displaced British loyalist who no longer
lives in Britain’s colony or belongs in British culture, creating an
American identity presents a problem for the former subject. The subject
views him or herself as a British subject rather than an American which
creates a state of ambivalence. America, the ‘melting pot,’ questions and
forms its identity due to the diversity of people migrating to the
country. From the displaced subject’s perspective, the American identity
represents a diluted or second-class identity so the subject adheres to
their homeland’s customs and national identity which equates to
superiority and familiarity.
   In The Wide, Wide World, Susan Warner’s British subjects, Alice
Humphreys and George Marshman, proclaim their British identity and
incorporate British customs and culture into their American life, thus
exhibiting ambiguous intimacy issues and a void between the subject and
the homeland. It is through these British customs that Alice and George
exhibit a desire for the homeland that represents a former life which is
impossible to revisit. While Mrs. Vawse lives on the mountains, the
geography and landscape provide her with a sense of her former home in the
Alps, also reinforcing that the displaced character copes with a void by
repression. Traditionally, scholars view the characters’ customs and
physical surroundings as a nostalgic medium while a close examination
shows how the displaced subject copes with displacement through passive
intimacy. In a passive intimacy, the characters disallow active
engagement between themselves and the former homeland as they satisfy
themselves from a distance. Jacques Lacan believes people displace
desires along a chain which substitutes one commodity for another,
metonymy. Sigmund Freud explains how a familiar concept converts into the
unfamiliar. From a psychoanalytical perspective, Warner’s displaced
characters subconsciously repress and defer their desire to return to the
homeland through customs and inanimate objects from the homeland so
metonymy distances the subject from their homeland.

 From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
             more information at
Received on Wed Jan 02 2008 - 09:16:15 EST