'Stealing silk is my delight': Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault and the sexual politics of poststructuralist feminism

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2013 Number 79

'Stealing silk is my delight': Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault and the sexual politics of poststructuralist feminism
Victoria Coulson, pages -

Abstract

This essay contends that contemporary practices of literary criticism unreflectively reiterate distinctive propositions about subjectivity that derive from a long tradition of idealist philosophy. It is a tradition of thinking predicated on a splitting of the mind from the body to enable the philosophical subject to transcend death by disavowing the material object world. To explore this claim, the essay examines the reception by late twentieth- and early twenty-first century Anglophone scholarship of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault’s work on shoplifting in fin-de-siècle Parisian department stores. The essay demonstrates that recent scholarship on de Clérambault reproduces the idealist assumptions that informed critical accounts of his work in the early 1990s, and locates these philosophical postulates within two interrelated modes of poststructuralist scholarship that enjoyed significant intellectual prestige in the 1980s and 1990s: the critique of the ‘culture of consumption,’ and the feminist deployment of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. The essay proposes that a new interpretation of de Clérambault’s work may challenge the sexual politics of the philosophical idealism that structured some of the most influential feminist scholarship of the poststructuralist era, and that continues to shape critical thinking today.

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To cite this article
Victoria Coulson (2013) 'Stealing silk is my delight': Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault and the sexual politics of poststructuralist feminism, New Formations, 2013(79), -

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