‘Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists’ by Joan Copjec

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Pits the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan against the historicist approach of Michel Foucault to develop a profound critique of historicism.

In Read My Desire, Joan Copjec stages a confrontation between the theories of Jacques Lacan and those of Michel Foucault, protagonists of two powerful modern disciplines—psychoanalysis and historicism. Ordinarily, these modes of thinking only cross paths long enough for historicists to charge psychoanalysis with an indifference to history, but here psychoanalysis, via Lacan, goes on the offensive. Refusing to cede history to the historicists, Copjec makes a case for the superiority of Lacan’s explanation of historical processes and generative principles. Her goal is to inspire a new kind of cultural critique, one that is “literate in desire,” and capable of interpreting what is unsaid in the manifold operations of culture.