Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Royal S. Brown

Committee Members

Francesca Canadé Sautman

Raphaël Liogier

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Continental Philosophy | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Feminist Philosophy | French and Francophone Language and Literature | History of Philosophy | Modern Literature | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan, Jouissance, Singularity, Gender and Queer Theories, Poststructuralism


The Subject of Jouissance argues that Lacan’s approach to psychoanalysis, far from being heteronormative, offers a notion of identity that deconstructs gender as a social norm, and opens onto a non-normative theory of the subject (of jouissance) that still remains to be fully explored by feminist, gender, and queer scholars. Drawing mostly on the later Lacan, The Subject of Jouissance shows that by locating the identity of the subject in the singularity of its bodily mode of enjoyment (that Lacan calls “jouissance”), and not in the Imaginary illusions of the ego, nor in the Symbolic social structures, Lacan fosters thinking about identity as an ethical act through which a subject learns how to make something socially valuable out of what would have remained excessive, autistic or perverse in its own singular mode of jouissance.

To contextualize this idea and emphasize its relevance, The Subject of Jouissance stages encounters between Lacan and the work of feminist and queer scholars such as Judith Butler, Hélène Cixous and Lee Edelman, as well as the works of French post-structuralists who influenced Lacan’s late teaching, such as Jacques Derrida and Georges Bataille. In doing so, this dissertation intervenes in current debates in American academia that oppose relational theorists, who support the optimism of identity politics, like the lgbt+ movement, and anti-relational theorists, who favor a “queer” dissolution of the very notion of identity. In The Subject of Jouissance I argue that it is possible to build an ethics of jouissance that preserves, on the one hand, the singularity of one’s own mode of jouissance and, on the other, keeps as a primary goal the creation of new forms of sociality that goes beyond the limits that impose onto our psychic life the discourse of economy and the discourse of (neuro)science.