The Logic of Sexuation

From Aristotle to Lacan

By Ellie Ragland

Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Literary Theory, Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791460788, 228 pages, April 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460771, 228 pages, April 2004

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Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. "On the Signification of the Phallus" (1958) According to Lacan

2. Freud's "Female Sexuality" (1931) and "Femininity" (1932): Oedipus Revisited via the Lacanian Pre-Oedipus

3. Feminine Sexuality, or Why the Sexual Difference Makes All the Difference: Lacan's "For a Congress on Feminine Sexuality" (1958)

4. A Rereading of Freud's 1925 Essay: "Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes" through Lacan's Theory of Sexuation

5. The Place of the Mother in Lacanian Analysis: Lacan's Theory of the Object, or Castration Rethought




Challenges essentialist notions of gender through a detailed account of Lacan's theories of gender, sexuality, and sexual difference.


2004 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

In The Logic of Sexuation, Ellie Ragland offers a detailed account of Jacques Lacan's theories of gender, sexuality, and sexual difference. Exploring Lacan's rereading (via Aristotle) of Freud's major essays on feminine sexuality, Ragland demonstrates that Lacanian theory challenges essentialist notions of gender more effectively than do current debates in gender studies, which are typically enmeshed in an imaginary impasse of one sex versus or interchanged with the other. Although much American feminist thought on Lacan has portrayed him as anti-Woman, Ragland argues that Lacan was, in fact, pro-Woman, as he felt that no advances in analytic cure, or in thinking itself, could evolve except by embracing the feminine logic of the "not all," with its particular modes of jouissance. Ragland also aims to make sense of the terms phallus, castration, sexuation, the object a, jouissance, and so on, in relation to the question of sexual difference. In doing so, she uncovers Lacan's theory that the learning of sexual difference is what makes it possible to think dialectically at all.

Ellie Ragland is Professor of English and Literary Theory at the University of Missouri. She is the author or editor of several books, including, Critical Essays on Jacques Lacan.


"The level of [Ragland's] erudition is impressive and indisputable, and this will contribute towards making this book a point of reference to which many a scholar will turn and return. Sexuality is not where we think it is, and Ragland's text will revivify the force of this Lacanian belief time and again." — French Studies

"…easily the best book to date on Lacan's theories of sexuality, femininity, and sexual difference … will take its place alongside other indispensable and now-classic explications of Lacanian thought … a rewarding and pathbreaking book." — CHOICE

"Ragland definitively buries the notion of a biological basis to gender for Lacan. More importantly, she places Lacan's thinking on this subject of sexuality within a logical structure. Whether or not feminist and other critics agree with Ragland's analysis of Lacan's theory of sexuation and its importance for the psychic structuration, this book will be the groundbreaking work in the field. It stands as the first complete elucidation of Lacan's thinking on how gender choices are inscribed in the human psyche." — Evelyn Moore, Kenyon College

"This is the most insightful and illuminating account in English—and quite possibly in any language—of Lacan's thinking on gender and sexuality." — Mark Bracher, coeditor of Lacanian Theory of Discourse: Subject, Structure, and Society