an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image


Volume 2, April 2005, ISSN 1552-5112


Psychoanalysis and Film Theory Part 2[1]:

Reflections and Refutations


Paula Murphy




In part one of this article, the development of film theory was outlined, and the influence of Lacan made apparent.  However, the disciplines of psychoanalysis and film theory have not always as compatible as they may appear.  Part two will address the various criticisms that have been leveled at film theory for its use and abuse of Lacanian psychoanalysis.  These tensions function both to shed light on various aspects of psychoanalysis, and also highlight possible problematic areas.  In the following sections, these debates are addressed in relation to notion of the filmic gaze and the interjections of feminist film theorists.


The Gaze

In her article, ‘The Orthopsychic Subject: Film Theory and the Reception of Lacan’, Joan Copjec harshly criticizes what she sees as film theory’s misinterpretation of Lacan, and her critique centers around two figures who are generally regarded as being in the ranks of the founders of film theory, Michel Foucault and Jean Bachelard.  Copjec claims that film theory has performed what she terms a ‘Foucauldization’ of Lacan.  For Foucault, psychoanalysis is like any other discourse: it functions as a means through which ‘the modern subject is apprehended and apprehends itself, rather than…processes of apprehension’ (Copjec 2000, 440).  Moreover, the fallback position of the screen as a mirror, espoused by eminent critics like Baudry, Comolli and Metz is regarded by Copjec as intrinsically flawed.  This traditional standpoint, as outlined in part one of this article, positions the subject in a relation of recognition, and thus as master of the image that he/she sees.  This is a drastic simplification of Lacan’s theory, as the mirror stage experience is essentially a traumatic one that disrupts the subject’s relationship to the world.  It produces a subject that is congenitally split or divided, and one that is in contrast to the stable subject of film theory, who is master of the image.  Copjec claims that this difference between the Lacanian subject and its re-interpretation in film theory rests on the issue of the relationship between desire and the law.  For Lacan, desire is both encouraged and prohibited by the law.  Desire can only emerge through a possibility offered by the law, because the symbolic structures desire.  Since desire demands to be realized, it can only be prevented from doing so by an external force. So conversely, the law also functions to prohibit desire, as is evidenced by the Oedipus and castration complexes, or Levi-Strauss’s incest prohibition.  Foucault however, conflates these two elements, perceiving desire ‘not only as an effect, but also as a realization of the law’ (Copjec 2000, 443).  The subject of traditional film theory is therefore based more on Foucault’s panoptic gaze than on the Lacanian gaze, causing Copjec to state that, ‘[t]he relation between apparatus and gaze creates only the mirage of psychoanalysis.  There is no psychoanalytic subject in sight’ (Copjec 2000, 444).

            Zizek also criticizes film theory’s misinterpretation of the Lacanian gaze on the same grounds as Copjec and his theorizations are a significant development of the early theories of Metz and others.  Zizek agrees with Metz that before the spectator identifies with characters from the diegesis, he/she first identifies with himself/herself as pure gaze.  He contends however, that ‘the viewer is forced to face the desire at work in his/her seemingly neutral gaze’ (Zizek 1992, 223).  In his later work, The Fright of Real Tears, Zizek explains this idea more fully.  Arguing for the antagonistic relationship between the eye and the Gaze, he states that, ‘the Gaze is on the side of the object, it stands for the blind spot in the field of the visible from which the picture itself photo-graphs the spectator’ (Zizek 2001, 34).  In other words, ‘when I am looking at an object, the object is already gazing at me’ (Zizek, 2000, 530).  The function of interface occurs when subjective and objective shots in the film fail to produce a suturing effect.  In the usual process of suture, the first shot generates a feeling of anxiety in the spectator, which is alleviated by the second shot which shows the first to be from the point of view of a particular character.  Thus the second shot attempts to represent the absent subject S.  Interface is the point at which this representation fails.  Zizek defines interface as ‘the internal element that sustains the consistency of the ‘external reality’ itself, the artificial screen that confers the effect of reality on what we see’ (Zizek 2001, 54).  This internal element, which is necessary for external reality to appear a consistent whole is the object petit a.  

Zizek’s argument echoes Lacan’s original objections to the use of suture in film theory outlined in part one.  On the surface, suture closes the gap of representation, hiding the traces of its own production.  But in psychoanalysis, nothing can be fully hidden, or fully repressed.  This leads Zizek to argue that there is no clear opposition between subjective experience and objective reality: rather there is ‘an excess on both sides’ (Zizek 2001, 59).  To illustrate this point, Zizek uses the example of the empty master signifier ‘Nation’.  It is a signified that contains an ostensible fullness and completeness of meaning, yet which also fails on the level of the signifier, since it is incapable of definition.  The master signifier, of which the phallus is an example, could perhaps be perceived as threatening this endless instability of meaning, as it is an anchoring point in the symbolic order.  This is not the case however, because the phallus is a signifier of its own impossibility.  Zizek points out that Lacan has likened the phallus to the square root of -1, a number whose value cannot be calculated, but which nonetheless exists and functions within the system of mathematics.  Although Lacan has often been criticized for his use of mathematical symbols, it must be borne in mind that he does not purport to perform a mathematically accurate algebra.  He uses mathematics for his own purpose, which is the illustration of his theories.  This equation is aligned with the phallus because it too represents an impossible fullness of meaning.  The signified is ‘sustained by the void…at the level of the signifier’ (Zizek 2001, 60).  The square root of -1 represents a concept which is theoretically possible but which fails at the level of the signifier, because it cannot be calculated.  It represents, as Fink suggests, ‘what the subject is that is unthinkable about him’ (Fink 2004, 125): the real, the overflow of signification into the void beyond language.  In the case of the phallus, this void is its castrating dimension, and means that its fullness of meaning is supplemented by its own impossibility.  It is the feminist branch of film theory that has interrogated the phallic aspect of the Lacanian subject most thoroughly.


Feminist Film Theory

In feminist film theory, issues surrounding the phallus and sexuality play a significant role, but to a much lesser extent than in conventional psychoanalytic feminism.  This is primarily due to the fact that all theorizations of selfhood in film theory (not just feminist ones) are part of its broader function, which is the dual interrogation of self as spectator and self on screen.  Like mainstream film theory, feminist film theory too is marked by a focus on the occasion of consumption: the act of watching a film and the identifications that this act engenders.  As well as examining the psychical experience of the spectator, feminist film theory also studies the representation of women in filmic discourse.  Since this activity is by its nature confined to specific films, it is the analysis of the spectator that consequently forms the central topic for this section. 

Feminist film theory began as part of the general social and political feminist movement, but it is useful at the outset to set out the main objections of feminists to film theory in particular.  Most theorizations of the relationship between spectator and film depicted the gaze as male, evicting the female spectator from the possibility of identification.  As regards films themselves, it was felt that women functioned primarily as objects of desire for the male gaze.  Hence, the basic problem occurs in feminist film theory: whether woman (as spectator or character) can be conceptualised outside of the dominant hegemony.  This section will examine the responses of several feminist critics to these issues.

            Anne Friedberg is a useful beginning point for the interrogation of feminist film theory, as her essay ‘A Denial of Difference: Theories of Cinematic Identification’ outlines patriarchal identificatory processes and sets out to critique them.  Friedberg divides identification into three stages: pre-cinematic identification, cinematic identification, and extra-cinematic identification.  According to Friedberg, cinematic identification is prefigured by the unconscious identification processes that are cultivated in early childhood.  In her opening paragraph she states that in psychoanalysis,

Identification is a process which commands the subject to be displaced by an other; it is a procedure which refuses and recuperates the separation between self and other, and in this way replicates the very structure of patriarchy.  Identification demands sameness, necessitates similarity, disallows difference.  (Friedberg 1990, 36)

Here Friedberg takes the vast, overarching concept of self and other in Lacan and Freud’s work and reduces it to an example of the mechanisms of patriarchy or female subordination.  Yes, identification does mirror the structure of patriarchy, but it would seem apparent that the blurring of boundaries between self and other is an essential part of any identification, and is central to every relationship: colonizers and colonized, lover and beloved, master and slave.  Friedberg displays the blinkered nature of her viewpoint by failing to acknowledge the universality of the identificatory experience. 

Pre-cinematic identification as described by Freud and later by Lacan, is problematic for feminists like Friedberg who practice a feminism of difference, since identification is built upon a denial of difference from early childhood.  For example, the child in the mirror stage disavows the discrepancy between his image in the mirror as a unified body, and his experiential chaotic reality.  This characteristic of identification is repeated in cinematic identification.  As one of the first exponents of psychoanalytic identificatory processes in cinema, it is Christian Metz who comes under criticism from Friedberg.  In opposition to Metz, Friedberg contends that the ego-ideal offered by the cinema is ‘not unified or whole, but a synecdochal signifier’ (Friedberg 1990, 41).  The actor/actress is not represented in his/her entirety.  Rather, different parts of the body become part-object commodities: a voice, a face, a pair of legs, etc.  Secondly, she points out the problems that occur when gendered identification is considered.  The woman is forced either into identifying with ‘the woman who is punished by the narrative or treated as a scoptophilic fetish OR…identifying with the man who is controller of events’ (Friedberg 1990, 42).  Friedberg launches her final attack on Metz by claiming that secondary identification need not necessarily involve a human form at all, emphasizing her argument that identification processes are based upon a denial of difference.  Considering the range of animal, alien and robot characters that it is possible to identify with, Friedberg concludes that ‘any body offers an opportunity for identificatory investment, a possible suit for the substitution/misrecognition of self’ (Friedberg 1990, 42). 

This third point would seem to open Friedberg onto a path of identification that is not founded on gender divides, but she chooses to utilise it only to further emphasise the denial of difference that she contends is the mechanism of patriarchy.  Friedberg argues that extra-cinematic identification serves to further entrench the spectator in the pattern of recognition as other, and subsequent misrecognition as self.  The economic structures which support the cinema encourage consumers to buy film star merchandise or products that are endorsed by film stars, enabling them to purchase and therefore own or consume the star.  In this way, Friedberg argues that cinematic identification produces normative gender figures, which must be critiqued under patriarchy.  Friedberg’s account is useful in setting out the opposition that feminists have to traditional theories of cinematic identification, but her analysis is considerably hampered by her own political project, which makes her unable to look beyond the gender divide. 

            Mary Ann Doane voices similar objections to apparatus theory.  Using the character of Gaby Doriot as an example, she argues like Friedberg that the cinema produces stereotyped representations of women.  Gaby Doriot as the eponymous La Signora di tutti of the film’s title is a perfect example of how many on-screen female characters are indeed ‘everybody’s Lady’.  That the same may be said about many stereotyped male characters does not enter Doane’s argument.  Instead she concentrates on illustrating the sexism of apparatus theory.  Unlike Friedberg however, Doane does propose a solution to this feminist dilemma.  Recognizing the often-neglected historical application of psychoanalysis, Doane sees this as a way to crack open the deterministic structure of apparatus theory, and allow for ‘the possibility of change or transformation through attention to the concreteness and specificity of the socio-historical situation’ (Doane 1990, 48).  Doane reservedly suggests that ‘[p]sychoanalysis is, in some sense, the construction of history, and history in its turn, an act of remembering’ (Doane 1990, 59).  It hardly seems necessary to point out here that psychoanalysis is in every sense the construction of history, from its clinical methodology to its own historical development in Lacan’s reconstruction of Freud.  Although Doane sees history as related to a social past that transcends the subject, she believes that its co-relative – memory – is firmly anchored to the individual.  In this way she envisages feminism escaping from the deadlock of apparatus theory.  However, Doane does not explicitly state exactly how this is to be achieved, remarking rather vaguely that ‘[t]he task must be not that of remembering women, remembering real women, immediately accessible – but of producing remembering women; with memories and hence histories’ (Doane 1990, 60).  Her concluding analysis of the feminist film The Gold Diggers would suggest that remembering women are to be produced on the screen by an alternative feminist cinematography.  This does not, however, solve the problem of representations of women in mainstream cinema or the gender bias in apparatus theory. 

            The question may fruitfully be proffered as to why the apparatus is supposed to be male in the first place.  Any answer to this question cannot fail to make reference to Laura Mulvey’s foundational essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ originally published in Screen, which was to become the main reference point for much of the feminist film theory that was to follow.  Mulvey begins her article by stating that ‘the unconscious of patriarchal society has structured film form’ (Mulvey 2000, 483).  This is a view shared by many feminist film theorists.  Cowie goes as far back as Levi-Strauss to argue that ‘[k]inship is …part of a system which produces woman as object of exchange’ (Cowie 2000, 60).  Mulvey explains this state of affairs by way of psychoanalytic theory that in her account allocates woman two main functions: symbolizing the threat of castration by her absence of a penis, and bringing the child into the symbolic.  Doane cites this as the reason that the male spectator is destined to be fetishistic: in his sexual indoctrination there is a distance between his look (at the female genitals) and the boy’s understanding of his look as sexual difference, which comes about retrospectively with the advent of the castration complex.  For this reason, Doane states that, ‘the male spectator is destined to be a fetishist, balancing knowledge and belief’ (Doane 2000, 501).  Mulvey argues, as many feminist do, that it is woman’s lack, set down during this formative period of the infant’s life, which ensures the symbolic presence of the phallus. 

The phallus is certainly a symbolic presence, but is as pointed out in the earlier discussion in this article on Zizek, an empty signifier.  It is necessary in order to hold together the structure of sexual development; it is a privileged term, which both sexes must relate to, but it means little in itself.  In fact, it is the pre-Oedipal castrations that prove to be the most definitive in both male and female subjectivity, castrations that are realized only retroactively, après coup, when the child enters the symbolic.  The castrations ‘produce a subject who is structured by lack long before the “discovery” of sexual difference’ (Silverman 1988, 16).  Mulvey goes on to say that once woman has successfully ushered her child into the symbolic, ‘her meaning in the process is at an end, it does not last into the world of law and language except as a memory of maternal plenitude’ (Mulvey 2000, 483).  A statement of this sort not only steers her down a path of inevitable despair, it is also blatantly untrue.  Her position is based upon the unspoken belief that the symbolic order is masculine. 

Although this may have been true in the past, it is surely now an outdated standpoint in contemporary society where women contribute to all aspects of society and culture. 

The other main issue arising from this article that was to become highly influential is Mulvey’s assertion that the cinema plays on both the scopophilic instinct and ego libido.  Moreover,

[t]he image of woman as (passive) raw material for the (active) gaze of man takes the argument a step further into the structure of representation, adding a further layer demanded by the ideology of the patriarchal order as it is worked out in its favorite cinematic form – illusionistic narrative film. (Mulvey 2000, 493)

In Mulvey’s article, the cinema represents and exaggerates the very worst aspects of society from a female point of view.  Although the premises that her argument is based on are themselves dubious and subjective, and sometimes grossly outdated, Mulvey further adds to the negativity of her account by failing to offer any way forward.  Following the widespread critical interest that this article generated, she did however produce a follow up article where she addresses some of these flaws. 

Having been criticized for only dealing with the male gaze and ignoring the female spectator, her second article sets out to examine ‘how the text and its attendant identifications are affected by a female character occupying the center of the narrative arena’ (Mulvey 2000a, 24).  Mulvey quotes at length from Freud and the famous passage in which he proclaims that there is only one libido, which is masculine.  Once again, she criticizes psychoanalysis by criticizing Freud.  It is not difficult or even particularly illuminating to point out that a Victorian psychoanalyst appears sexist a century later, and Mulvey appears to deliberately ignore any advances made by Lacan.  In ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ she attacks Freud for providing an explanation of female sexuality that is based on anatomy, without recognizing that this is not the case for Lacan. 

In light of her criticisms of Freud, it is ironic that Mulvey comes full circle to agree with him.  In an attempt to answer the question of how the female spectator identifies in cinema, she concludes that Hollywood genre films, structured around masculine pleasure allow woman to identify with active male sexuality: ‘that lost aspect of her sexual identity, the never fully repressed bedrock of feminine neurosis’ (Mulvey 2000a, 26).  This trans-sex identification is examined in relation to King Vidor’s western, Duel in the Sun, which dramatizes the situation of a woman caught between two conflicting desires: passive femininity and regressive masculinity, which are offered to her by her two male counterparts in the film.  One allows her to be a tomboy in the ‘male’ world of rivalry and violence; the other, a man of culture and learning shows her the ‘correct’ path to becoming a lady.  Mulvey argues that the position of the female spectator is similar to that of Pearl in Duel in the Sun, as she ‘temporarily accepts “masculinisation” in memory of her “active” phase’ (Mulvey 2000a, 35).  Although she recognizes that this position is not ideal, Mulvey nevertheless shows a certain amount of solidarity with Freud, which proves to be the thread that unravels her entire argument.  In spite of her obvious objections to Freudian psychoanalysis, her own theory of female cinematic identification is constructed within its confines.

            Theorist Constance Penley offers an account of the problems with and possible solutions to apparatus theory for feminists that is more influenced by Lacan than Freud.  Penley borrows the term ‘bachelor machine’ to describe the cinematic apparatus; an appropriate metaphor in light of her stance that the cinematic apparatus cannot properly accommodate or represent the woman.  In her article ‘Feminism, Film Theory and the Bachelor Machines’, Penley takes on several eminent film theorists, disputing their theorizations of the cinematic apparatus.  The first theorist she discusses is Jean-Louis Baudry.  Baudry believes the cinema to be the most accurate representation of the unconscious in history, claiming that ‘all the other art forms…are simply rehearsals of a primordially unconscious effort to recreate the scene of the unconscious, while cinema is its most successful achievement’ (Penley 2000, 458).  Both Baudry and Metz describe the cinematic scene (the darkness, the projection from behind) as a duplication of unconscious phenomena, producing hallucinatory satisfaction in the case of the former, and ideal subjective unity and visual mastery in the case of the latter.[1]  Penley criticizes both theorists however, for failing to acknowledge the ‘economic, social, or political determinations of cinema’ (Penley 2000, 459).  In short, their analyses overlook the position of the cinema within the symbolic order.  This is the point at which Penley returns to a specific attack on Metz, whom she criticizes for claiming that the cinema is primarily imaginary, which subsequently becomes the crux of her argument. 

Metz’s justifications for this claim have already been outlined, based on the fact that the cinema experience centers around the scopic drive and the cinema is presence in absence, but Penley argues that Metz’s conception of the imaginary is over-simplified, pointing out that in Lacan’s later work he emphasizes that ‘the imaginary is always permeated by the desire of the Other, and that it is a triangular rather than a dual relation’ (Penley 2000, 460).  Penley’s argument is well-founded.  The imaginary is always subordinate to the symbolic, even if the subject himself is unaware of this fact.  This is why Lacan found in Jean-Paul Sartre such a valuable model for the theorization of vision: Sartre too believed that the look is subject to the look of the Other, and consequently to the symbolic order.  Penley uses this argument to attack feminists like Kristeva, Michele Montelray and Irigaray, who are overly focused on the body.  Their objections to the construction of female sexuality in relation to a third term, the phallus, and their solutions to this problem which paradoxically return to the body, ignore the prevailing influence of the symbolic order in the development of both female and male sexuality:

The risk of essence” unabashedly taken by these alternative theories of the feminine typically involves…ignoring the important psychoanalytic emphasis on the way that sexual identity is imposed from the “outside”.  By deriving gendered sexuality from the body, no matter how indirectly, what is in danger of disappearing is the sense of sexuality as an arbitrary identity that is imposed on the subject, as a law. (Penley 2000, 469)

This is a view that is shared by Doane who similarly criticizes French feminists for their engagement in ‘a kind of ‘ghetto politics’’ (Doane 1993, 175).  As a counter to the maleness of the cinematic apparatus, Penley suggests that the way forward is not be found in a return to the body, but in the analysis of fantasy, which ‘provides a way of accounting for sexual difference but which in no way seeks to dictate or predetermine the subsequent distribution of that difference’ (Penley 2000, 470). 

Fantasy does closely resemble cinema in many of its aspects: it is a staging of the subject’s desire, as identification in fantasy is shifting and not fixed and the subject enters into the same contract of temporary belief in its reality.  Elizabeth Cowie’s Fantasia is a full-length study on the dynamics of fantasy and their relation to cinema.  Like Penley, she too posits fantasy as the staging of desire or ‘the mise-en-scene of desire’ (Cowie 1993, 147).  The importance of fantasy for feminist theory lies in what Cowie describes as de-subjectivisation.  She borrows this term for Lacan who refers to it in Seminar XI.[2]  In fantasy, the subject does not occupy a fixed position, but is fluid, becoming part of the syntax of the sequence itself.  Lacan’s theorization of fantasy opens the way for the analysis of cinematic identification that is not dominated by the ‘male’ apparatus.  Cowie argues that in the fiction film as in fantasy, the subject’s identification is likewise not fixed: ‘[b]oth the daydream ‘thoughtlessly’ composed and the more complex fictional narrative join with the ‘original’ fantasies in visualizing the subject in the scene, and in presenting a varying of subject positions so that the subject takes up more than one position’ (Cowie 1993, 149). 

            Theorists like Cowie and Penley are attempting to show the way forward for feminist film theory.  Their intellectual engagement with the concepts of psychoanalysis and their obvious desire for a theory of cinematic identification that is not a war waged across gender lines shows a positive turnabout in itself.  Nevertheless, while the politics of gender continue to play the primary role in the theorization of film identification for feminists, it is difficult to overcome the entrenchment of that position, which perhaps precludes a broader, more inclusive analysis.  As an example of the possible effects of such a politics, I would like to conclude this section by making reference to Doane’s article, ‘Heads in Hieroglyphic Bonnets’.  She begins by extracting a quote used by Freud to describe female otherness: ‘[h]eads in hieroglyphic bonnets,/ Heads in turbans and black birettas, /Heads in wigs and thousand other/ Wretched sweating heads of humans’ (Heine, qtd. in Doane 2000, 495).  By removing the quotation from its context however, Freud omits the intended purpose of these lines for Heine, for whom they serve to ponder not ‘”What is Woman”, but instead, “what signifies Man?” (Doane 2000, 495).  Thus, Freud’s claim that he is investigating the otherness of woman is revealed to be ‘a pretense, haunted by the mirror effect by means of which the question of the woman reflects only the man’s own ontological doubts’ (Doane 2000, 496).  However, it escapes Doane’s notice that Heine’s use of ‘Man’ (he was writing in the nineteenth century, after all) refers not to the male, but is a linguistic convention used to signify mankind or humankind.  Thus, Doane commits a misreading based on gender prejudice that mirrors Freud’s own.  This error in Doane’s article is symptomatic of the dangers of a feminist discourse that is overzealous and which consequently runs the risk of either repeating the gender bias that has been suffered by women, or what is perhaps worse, blinding itself to situations of equality when everything is seen through the lens of a feminist politics.

            Examining psychoanalytic issues from a specifically cinematic point of view has significantly added to the critical debate on psychoanalysis itself.  It has isolated problems, clarified issues and forwarded the theory in a way that would not otherwise have been possible.  From film theory’s idealistic beginnings with Eisenstein, it became apparent that a conception of film that accounted for the mechanisms of power and ideology was necessary.  For a time, Althusserian Marxism played this role until objections began to be raised against the passive Althusserian subject.  This engendered a renewed interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis, for whom the subject is constructed through ideology via the symbolic order, but who is also a producer of meaning, après coup, in the workings of signification. 

The influence of semiotics on film criticism as outlined in relation to Metz’s grande syntagmatique, also bore the influence of Lacan from a different direction: that of linguistics, in his radical re-reading of Saussure.  From the dual influences of structuralism and Althusserian Marxism that characterized British film theory, came a shift to a mode of theory that could incorporate the psychological experience of the spectator in the cinema.  This challenge was taken up by Heath and also by Metz, whose founding essay ‘The Imaginary Signifier’ showed the possibilities that Lacanian psychoanalysis could offer film theory.  In spite of the criticisms of theorists like Copjec and Zizek; that film theory has performed an over-simplification of the Lacanian subject, their interjections into the theory have raised fresh issues, steering film theory in a new direction, confirming the importance of Lacan in the theorization of post-millennial subjectivity.  It is a subjectivity that is unendingly complex and fragmented, which is at the mercy of multiple opposing forces, but which contains a underlying bedrock of unity, perhaps coming closer than any theory before it to explaining the multifarious, labyrinthine nature of the human psyche.



Copjec, Joan, 2000. ‘The Orthopsychic Subject: Film Theory and the Reception of Lacan’ in Film and Theory: An Anthology, ed. by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Oxford: Blackwell. [pp. 437-455]


Cowie, Elizabeth, 2000, ‘Woman as Sign’ in Feminism and Film, ed. by E. Ann Kaplan. New York: Oxford University Press. [pp. 48-49]


Cowie, Elizabeth, 1993. ‘From Fantasia’ in Contemporary Film Theory. ed. by Anthony Easthope. New York: Longman. [pp. 147-161]


Doane, Mary Ann, 2000, ‘Heads in Hieroglyphic Bonnets’ in Film and Theory: an Anthology, ed. by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Oxford: Blackwell. [pp. 495-509]


Doane, Mary Ann, 1993, ‘Subjectivity and Desire: An(other) Way of Looking’ in Contemporary Film Theory, ed. by Anthony Easthope. New York: Longman. [pp. 162-177]


Doane, Mary Ann, 1990. ‘Remembering Women: Psychical and Historical Constructions in Film Theory’ in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. ed. by E. Ann Kaplan. London: Routledge. [pp. 46-63]


Fink, Bruce, 2004. Lacan to the Letter: Reading Ecrits Closely. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Friedberg, Anne, 1990. ‘A Denial of Difference: Theories of Cinematic Identification’ in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. ed. by E. Ann Kaplan. London: Routledge. [pp. 36-45]


Lacan, Jacques, 1977. The Seminar. Book XI.  The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Translated by Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.


Mulvey, Laura, 2000. 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' in Film and Theory: An Anthology. Edited by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mulvey, Laura, 1990. 'Afterthoughts on "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" inspired by Duel in the Sun' in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Edited by E. Ann Kaplan.


Penley, Constance, 2000. ‘Feminism, Film Theory, and the Bachelor Machines’ in Film and Theory: An Anthology. ed. by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Oxford: Blackwell. [pp. 456-473]


Silverman, Kaja, 1988. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Zizek, Slavoj, 1992. Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock). London: Verso.


Zizek, Slavoj, 2000. ‘Looking Awry’ in Film and Theory: An Anthology, ed. by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Oxford: Blackwell. [pp. 524-538]


Zizek, Slavoj, 2001. The Fright of Real Tears: Krystof Kieślowski between Theory and Post Theory. London: BFI Publishing.





an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image


Volume 2, April 2005, ISSN 1552-5112



[1] See part one of this article for a discussion of Metz’s ‘The Imaginary Signifier’. 

[2] See Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, pg. 17.

[1] Part I of this essay is in Kritikos, Volume 2, February 2005: and Film Theory Part 1.htm