Scenes of Shame

Psychoanalysis, Shame, and Writing

Edited by Joseph Adamson & Hilary Clark

Subjects: Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791439760, 280 pages, October 1998
Hardcover : 9780791439753, 280 pages, October 1998

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Table of contents




Chapter 1 Introduction: Shame, Affect, Writing
Joseph Adamson and Hilary Clark
Chapter 2 The Disappearing Who: Kierkegaard, Shame, and the Self
Benjamin Kilborne
Chapter 3 Guardian of the "Inmost Me": Hawthorne and Shame
Joseph Adamson
Chapter 4 Ardor and Shame in Middlemarch
Gordon Hirsch
Chapter 5 George Eliot and Dilemmas of the Female Child
Joseph D. Lichtenberg

Chapter 6 "Man of the Most Dangerous Curiosity": Nietszche's "Fruitful and Frightful Vision" and His War against Shame
Léon Wurmser

Chapter 7 "The Dread and Repulsiveness of the Wild": D. H. Lawrence and Shame
Barbara Schapiro

Chapter 8 Shame in Japan and the American South: Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!
Philip Collington

Chapter 9 Depression, Shame, and Reparation: The Case of Anne Sexton
Hilary Clark

Chapter 10 "Quiet As It's Kept": Shame and Trauma in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye
J. Brooks Bouson

Chapter 11 Unmasking Shame in an Expository Writing Course
Jeffrey Berman

Name Index

Subject Index

Explores the role of shame as an important affect in the complex psychodynamics of literary and philosophical works.


The significance of shame as a critical human emotion has come to be recognized in the fields of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and psychology. Scenes of Shame brings this body of theory to bear on literary and philosophical representations of shame. The contributors explore the role of shame as an important affect in the psychodynamics of a wide range of literary and philosophical works, including essays on Kierkegaard, Hawthorne, George Eliot, Nietzsche, Lawrence, Faulkner, Sexton, and Toni Morrison. The book also includes an analysis of the problem of shame in student lifewriting in the classroom, and testifies to the importance of affect in philosophy and literature, as well as to the way in which imaginative writers can clarify and enrich our understanding of an emotion that, as Silvan Tomkins claims, "strikes deepest" into the human heart.

Joseph Adamson is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at McMaster University. He is the author of Melville, Shame, and the Evil Eye, also published by SUNY Press; Wounded Fiction: Modern Poetry and Deconstruction; and Northrop Frye: A Visionary Life. Hilary Clark is Associate Professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan and author of The Fictional Encyclopedia: Joyce, Pound, Sollers.


"This book has something for everybody. On the one hand it introduces the reader to the depth and importance of an important emotion—shame. On the other hand, this attention to shame suggests original approaches to the work of well-known poets, novelists, and philosophers. " — Marshall Alcorn, George Washington University

"The topic is central to psychoanalytic studies and literary criticism. In fact, I see a good chance that this book could break new ground in criticism, thus becoming a frequently cited work. As I read the book, I realized how significant shame is in the work of many writers who are not even mentioned here—e. g., Coleridge, Conrad, Dickens, and, most of all, Doestoevsky. " — Daniel W. Ross, Columbus State University