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The Abject Object

Avatars of the Phallus in Contemporary French Theory, Literature and Film

Keith Reader

This book addresses representations and constructions of masculinity in crisis in contemporary French culture by way of two important concepts – the phallus (largely but not solely in (a) Lacanian sense(s)) and abjection (Kristeva). Scrutiny of these concepts informs readings of a number of texts – literary (Bataille, Adamov, Doubrovsky, Houellebecq, Rochefort, Angot) and cinematic (Ferreri, Eustache, Godard, Noé, Bonello) – in which the abject phallus is a significant factor. The texts chosen all describe or stage crises of masculinity and mastery in ways that suggest that these supposedly beneficent qualities – and the phallus that symbolizes them – can often be perceived as burdensome or even detestable. Abjection is a widely-used concept in contemporary cultural studies, but has not hitherto been articulated with the phallus as emblem of male dominance as it is here. The volume will be of interest to those working in the areas of French, gender and film studies.