Writing Prejudices

The Psychoanalysis and Pedagogy of Discrimination from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison

By Robert Samuels

Subjects: Comparative Literature
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791448762, 206 pages, March 2001
Hardcover : 9780791448755, 206 pages, March 2001

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Introduction

PART ONE: Early Modern Prejudice

2. Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in Othello

3. The Cycle of Prejudice in Shakespeare's Miscegenating Sonnets

4. The Tempest: Colonial Desire, Homophobic Racism, and the Ideological Structures of Prejudice

PART TWO: Colonialism, Slavery, and Racist Homophobia

5. Frankenstein's Homosocial Colonial Desire

6. The Heart of Darkness and Homophobic Colonial Desire

PART THREE: Postmodern Prejudices

7. Internalized Racism and the Structures of Prejudice in The Bluest Eye

8. Beloved: Psychoanalytic Cultural Criticism and the National Unconscious

9. Conclusion


Works Cited


Examines the manifestations of racism, sexism, and homophobia in the literary works of Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, and Toni Morrison.


Writing Prejudices addresses critical attempts to undermine prejudice through education in general, and literary studies in particular. Robert Samuels argues that these attempts often fail because they do not take into account the different forms of prejudice, the role played by homophobia in racism and sexism, the structure of what Lacan calls symbolic castration, and the unconscious foundations of cultural formations. Addressing these deficiencies, Samuels uses psychoanalytic theory to examine the manifestations of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia in the works of Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, and Toni Morrison, showing how these distinct modes of oppression feed off of each other and the diverse ways that cultural critics can work to undermine them.

Robert Samuels is Lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the author of Hitchcock's Bi-Textuality: Lacan, Feminisms, and Queer Theory, also published by SUNY Press.


"This book is important on a number of different levels: It contributes original readings of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, shows the relevance of psychoanalysis to social issues, and articulates a new theory of how homophobia, racism, and sexism are intertwined. Its arguments are original and of immediate importance, and its application of psychoanalytic theory is often brilliant and always interesting. " — Jean Wyatt, author of Reconstructing Desire: The Role of the Unconscious in Women's Reading and Writing

"Interpreting the literary texts, Samuels is deft, moving, sometimes comical, but, in addition, with each reading he gives another turn to the Lacanian screw of subjectivity, deepening its bite while exposing to view yet another of its threads. " — Marcia Ian, author of Remembering the Phallic Mother: Psychoanalysis, Modernism, and the Fetish