Critical Theory Between Klein and Lacan explores convergences and divergences in the psychoanalytic theories of Melanie Klein and Jacques Lacan, with a special focus on the implications of their work for critical theory, broadly construed. The book is co-authored in the form of a dialogue between Amy Allen, a prominent representative of Frankfurt School critical theory with expertise on Klein, and Mari Ruti, a leading Lacanian critical theorist.
Klein and Lacan are among the two most important and influential psychoanalytic theorists after Freud. Their work has profound implications for how we understand subjectivity, intersubjectivity, autonomy, agency, desire, affect, trauma, history, and the potential for individual and social change. Allen and Ruti offer distinctive interpretations of Klein and Lacan that not only bring out their complexities but also highlight productive points of convergence where most psychoanalytic and critical theorists see irreconcilable differences. The book is organized around key themes that cut across and through the work of Klein and Lacan, culminating in an assessment of the implications of their theories for thinking about politics.
“This vibrant conversation of two brilliant theorists gives readers a chance to understand why psychoanalytic theory matters for thinking about subjectivity, affect, creativity, and politics. In conversational mode, these interlocutors bring to life difficult and important concepts, exploring the tensions among psychoanalytic positions, and giving an acute sense of life to theoretical concepts. This book makes the case for thinking carefully and well about key dimensions of selfhood, relationality, psychic states, and social relations. It brings one into the living character of thought, the fecundity of dialogue, and provides a model for intellectual friendship for our times. The text speaks to the specialist and to the curious, and helps to illuminate key concepts about psychic and social life that prove to be indispensable for understanding ourselves in the world.” – Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, USA, and author of The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (1997)
“I feel like I've pulled up a chair to the dining room table, strewn with all the texts that Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein have ever written, where Mari Ruti and Amy Allen sit immersed in conversation, intent on discovering-and explaining with erudite ease-the common touch points of two of the twentieth century's most important thinkers.” – Noelle McAfee, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Psychoanalytic Studies Program, Emory University, USA
“Everything you wanted to know about Melanie Klein but were legitimately afraid to ask Jacques Lacan! This extended staging of an encounter between Klein and Lacan is long overdue, a god-send and a necessity for our contemporary times. How is it that we have not put on fertile ground the two heavy weights of post-Freudian theory? The intimate exchange between Amy Allen and Mari Ruti guides us through the most difficult terrain, from alienation to paranoia and castration, from depressive anxieties to love and symbiosis.” – Jamieson Webster, Psychoanalyst based in New York, USA, and author of Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis (2018)
“Allen and Ruti manage not only to bring into conversation two crucial theorists who had previously been regarded as being at odds with one another, they also enact in the structure of their book and the style of their discourse a new mode of engaging in critical theory: non-adversarial but differentiated, generous but rigorous.” – Gail M. Newman, Harold J Henry Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Director of the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Williams College, USA
Table of contents:
About the Authors:
Amy Allen is Liberal Arts Professor of Philosophy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Pennsylvania State University, USA. She is the author of three books, including, most recently, The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (2016).
Mari Ruti (PhD, Harvard University) is Distinguished Professor of Critical Theory and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of thirteen books: Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life (2006); A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living (2009); The Summons of Love (2011); The Case for Falling in Love (2011); The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within (2012); The Call of Character (2013); Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (Bloomsbury, 2015); The Age of Scientific Sexism (Bloomsbury, 2015); Feminist Film Theory and Pretty Woman (Bloomsbury, 2016); The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects (2017); Penis Envy and Other Bad Feelings: The Emotional Costs of Everyday Life (2018); Distillations: Theory, Ethics, Affect (Bloomsbury, 2018); and Critical Theory Between Klein and Lacan: A Dialogue - with Amy Allen (Bloomsbury, 2019).