LOVE, SEX, AND LITERATURE
The Spring session of the English Graduate Student Colloquium took place on Friday, April 21, 2006. PhD student Patrick Moran moderated the evening,
beginning with a roundtable discussion that featured Professors Caroline Bicks, Kevin Ohi, and Joe Nugent, PhD students Heather Braun and Katherine Kellett, and MA's
Nick Richardson and Leslie York. Our Keynote Address for the evening was given by Boston College Professor Dayton Haskin, who offered insights
into some of his recent work under the title "Donne out of Wedlock."
Building on themes of LOVE, SEX, AND LITERATURE,
graduate student Chris Wallis and M.A. and incoming PhD student Beth Tressler were our student presenters for the evening. Beth's paper had been presented
in longer form at the Literature and Psychoanalysis Conference in Berkeley, California in March. Below are extracts from the two papers.
We encourage members of the BC community to continue the discussions begun during the Colloquium by contacting presenters and participants by email.
From Chris Wallis' "Sodomclaustrophobia: space, Male Intimacy, and Sodomy in The Changeling and Othello"
Social climbing. Feigned friendship. Backdoor penetration. These phrases capture the fears circulating during the Renaissance concerning sodomitical (male) intimacy,
which was at once associated with the physical - though not necessarily sexual - social, and political. Yet they are also characteristics found within many Early Modern dramas;
indeed, the Renaissance stage provided a location for the display of such fears, a space where, "sodomophobia," as Mario DiGangi refers to it, was consistently at play.
Two Renaissance dramas in particular, The Changeling and Othello, exhibit sodomitical transgression using noticeably similar locations - the confining
passages of a palace; a dark, narrow street - intimate spaces that simultaneously stifle and obscure. In this essay, I hope to expand upon DiGangi's formulation by focusing
on how sodomitical fears were often reified through the employment on the Early Modern stage of dark, tight spaces. Thus, I add a second prefix to DiGangi's term
to locate this role of space: sodomoclaustrophobia.
From Beth Tressler's "Black Hole Sun: Negativity and Melancholia in Jane Campion's The Piano"
The Piano by Jane Campion [...] acts similiarly to Kristeva's theoretical texts, which bring the body back into language. The film shows bodies articulating
pain, much like the analysands in Kristeva's writings. Campion's film does not flatten the psyche; rather, it presents subjectivity as a work in progress, the same endeavor
Kristeva calls for analysts to perform in Tales of Love. The Piano creates psychic space in showing us the daring, the violent, the critical. In The Piano,
Campion wanted to create characters outside of "a twentieth century sensibility about sex," in order that the characters experience the transforming power and strength of sex (135).
Campion's vision of narrating the power and truth contained within the body through film strikingly collates with Kristeva's own theoretical endeavor.