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Full-Text Articles in Arts and Humanities

Isabel Archer's "Delicious Pain": Charting Lacanian Desire In The Portrait Of A Lady, Phyllis E. Vanslyck Jan 2013

Isabel Archer's "Delicious Pain": Charting Lacanian Desire In The Portrait Of A Lady, Phyllis E. Vanslyck

Publications and Research

This essay offers a reading of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady that examines Isabel Archer's choices through a Lacanian lens. This reading traces Isabel's consistent turning away from, even against, the very postulates she claims to live by. Isabel’s discovery of love through the ideal image of herself she finds mirrored in Gilbert Osmond’s gaze leads to a reversal of her most noble impulses. Her choice of a suitor also points to something that would seem the opposite of desire, but which is, in fact, its foundation. In choosing Gilbert Osmond, Isabel seeks to ...


Tintoretto And James: Exposing The Shattered Subject, Phyllis E. Vanslyck Jan 2008

Tintoretto And James: Exposing The Shattered Subject, Phyllis E. Vanslyck

Publications and Research

Though “influence” may be too strong a word, the compositional affinities between James and Tintoretto are pervasive and worthy of comparative analysis, especially because both artists capture the moment when wonder gives way to the lonely and final uncertainty of our knowledge—of self, of others, of secular or spiritual truth.

Separated by three centuries, these two artists both stage a forceful assault on the conventions of their medium and engender in the viewer or reader (as well as internal “perceivers”) a kind of vertigo—a visual and psychological dislocation that is the basis of a new kind of insight ...


Charting An Ethics Of Desire In "The Wings Of The Dove”, Phyllis E. Vanslyck Jul 2005

Charting An Ethics Of Desire In "The Wings Of The Dove”, Phyllis E. Vanslyck

Publications and Research

James’s characters are nothing if not willful—and ultimately alone—in their quests. Like figures from ancient Greek drama, they demand everything and give up nothing, enacting Jacques Lacan’s ethical claim that “the only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one’s desire.”[i] In doing so, they seem to call into question, or at least complicate, the Kantian categorical imperative and the ideal of disinterested action, offering a radical ethical alternative. James’s characters enact, I will argue, an ethic of desire.

[i]Lacan, Seminar VII, 319.


Review Of The Innocents, Michael Adams Jan 2005

Review Of The Innocents, Michael Adams

Publications and Research

Review of Jack Clayton's The Innocents: http://www.media-party.com/discland/2005/10/the-innocents.html


Trapping The Gaze: Objects Of Desire In James's Early And Late Fiction, Phyllis E. Vanslyck Jan 2001

Trapping The Gaze: Objects Of Desire In James's Early And Late Fiction, Phyllis E. Vanslyck

Publications and Research

The object of desire in James's fiction is an ironic construct designed to expose the inevitable deformations of the gaze. What we long for--to be seen (understood) from our own perspective or, conversely, to understand another from his or her own perspective--is impossible. Instead there is always a gap, an abyss, between what we see and what we imagine or wish to be true about the Other. For Jacques Lacan, the gaze is, simply, "the subject sustaining itself in the function of desire" (Four Fundamental Concepts 84). In James's fiction, the powerful impulse to create an "ideal" and ...


Knowledge And Representation In The Ambassadors: Strether's Discriminating Gaze, Phyllis E. Vanslyck Oct 1997

Knowledge And Representation In The Ambassadors: Strether's Discriminating Gaze, Phyllis E. Vanslyck

Publications and Research

I propose a radically new reading of Lambert Strether's subjectivity in Henry James's The Ambassadors, one that challenges critical readings to date and suggests that Strether's journey reflects a tacit but very definite confrontation with the fundamental illusion of the core self. As he follows the trajectory of his desire, initially through identification with the "masculine" identity of Chad Newsome, Strether comes to see the limitations of conventional notions of masculinity. He discovers that the freedom he seeks is not to be found in the illusion of power characterized by masculine control and repression but rather in ...