The Plague of the Subject: Psychoanalysis and Judith Butler’s Psychic Life of Power

Campbell, Kirsten. 2001. The Plague of the Subject: Psychoanalysis and Judith Butler’s Psychic Life of Power. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 6(1-2), pp. 35-48. ISSN 1566-1768 [Article]

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In her book The Psychic Life of Power, Judith Butler explores the relation between power and subjectivity. The Psychic Life of Power presents a political account of the formation of the subject. For Butler, psychoanalysis is a crucial theoretical tool for providing such an account of the subject. This essay considers Butler’s Foucauldian rereading of psychoanalytic theory through an analysis of her theory of the formation of the subject. In particular, the essay examines Butler’s appropriation of psychoanalysis for her theory of subjectivity. The author argues that while Butler’s theorising of “the psychic life of power” represents an important linking of Foucauldian and psychoanalytic theories, nevertheless, her use of psychoanalysis does not fully engage with the complexity of its theory of the subject nor with the implications of that theory for her political project.

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judith butler, psychoanalysis, michel foucault, subjectivity, feminist theory

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Date Deposited:

02 Mar 2012 16:26

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 14:35

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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