Beyond Lacan

By James M. Mellard

Subjects: Literary Theory
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791469040, 300 pages, June 2007
Hardcover : 9780791469033, 300 pages, October 2006

Traces the development of Lacanian theory, and its possible future.


In Beyond Lacan, James M. Mellard traces psychoanalytic literary theory and practice from Freud to Lacan to Zðizûek. While Freud effectively presupposes an unconscious that is textual, it is Lacan whose theory all but articulates a textual unconscious as he offers the epoch a cutting-edge psychoanalytic ideology. Mellard considers this and then asks, "Which Lacan? Is there one or many? Early or late?" As Zðizûek counters the notion of a single, unitary Lacan, Lacanians are asked to choose. Through Lacanian readings of various texts, from novels like Ellison's Invisible Man and O'Connor's Wise Blood to short stories by Glaspell and Fitzgerald, Mellard shows that in critical practice Lacanians produce a middle Lacan, between early and late.

Mellard concludes by examining why Zðizûek has perhaps transcended Lacan. More than any other, it is Zðizûek who has constructed early and late Lacan, making possible that middle Lacan of praxis, but in the process he has also claimed an independent authority. Ultimately, Mellard explains how Zðizûek offers a post-Lacanian critique—one built on a pervasive philosophy of paradox—that opens new avenues of analysis of contested cultural and literary issues such as subjectivity, political economy, multiculturalism, and religious belief.

James M. Mellard is Presidential Teaching Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of many books, including Using Lacan, Reading Fiction.