The Aesthetic Clinic

Feminine Sublimation in Contemporary Writing, Psychoanalysis, and Art

By Fernanda Negrete

Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics, Philosophy, Twentieth- And Twenty-first-century Studies, Comparative Literature
Series: SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature
Paperback : 9781438480206, 345 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480213, 345 pages, September 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: On Freud's Couch, Dreaming of Art

Part I: The Transvaluation of Health

1. Louise Bourgeois' Art of Hysteria

2. Transmuting Pain into Joy with Precious Liquids

3. Lygia Clark on the Space–Body Problem

Part II: Love beyond Pleasure

4. (Re)Visions of Love: Marguerite Duras

5. Developing Douleur exquise: Sophie Calle et al.

Part III: For an Uncanny Ethics of Care

6. Water, Weather, Words: Le Temps with Roni Horn and Clarice Lispector

Works Cited

Examines experimental art and literature by women alongside psychoanalysis and philosophy to develop a new understanding of sublimation and aesthetic experience.


In The Aesthetic Clinic, Fernanda Negrete brings together contemporary women writers and artists well known for their formal experimentation—Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Lygia Clark, Marguerite Duras, Roni Horn, and Clarice Lispector—to argue that the aesthetic experiences afforded by their work are underwritten by a tenacious and uniquely feminine ethics of desire. To elaborate this ethics, Negrete looks to notions of sublimation and feminine sexuality developed by Freud, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Nietzsche, and their reinvention with and after Jacques Lacan, including in the schizoanalysis of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. But she also highlights how psychoanalytic theory draws on writing and other creative practices to conceive of unconscious processes and the transformation sought through analysis. Thus, the "aesthetic clinic" of the book's title (a term Negrete adopts from Deleuze) is not an applied psychoanalysis or schizoanalysis. Rather, The Aesthetic Clinic privileges the call and constraints issued by each woman's individual work. Engaging an artwork here is less about retrieving a hidden meaning through interpretation than about receiving a precise transmission of sensation, a jouissance irreducible to meaning. Not only do art and literature serve an urgent clinical function in Negrete's reading but sublimation itself requires an embrace of femininity.

At the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Fernanda Negrete is Assistant Professor of French and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture.


"Intellectually ambitious, original, cross-disciplinary, and coherently argued, there is much to admire in this book." — Margaret Iversen, author of Photography, Trace, and Trauma