For Freud, famously, the feminine was a dark continent, or a riddle without an answer. This understanding concerns man’s relationship to the question of ‘woman’ but femininity is also a matter of sexuality and gender and therefore of identity and experience. Drawing together leading academics, including film and literary scholars, clinicians and artists from diverse backgrounds, Femininity and Psychoanalysis: Cinema, Culture, Theory speaks to the continued relevance of psychoanalytic understanding in a social and political landscape where ideas of gender and sexuality are undergoing profound changes.

This transdisciplinary collection crosses boundaries between clinical and psychological discourse and arts and humanities fields to approach the topic of femininity from a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives. From object relations, to Lacan, to queer theory, the essays here revisit and rethink the debates over what the feminine might be. The volume presents a major new work by leading feminist film scholar, Elizabeth Cowie, in which she presents a first intervention on the topic of film and the feminine for over 20 years, as well as a key essay by the prominent artist and psychoanalyst, Bracha Ettinger.

Written by an international selection of contributors, this collection is an indispensable tool for film and literary scholars engaged with psychoanalysts and anybody interested in different approaches to the question of the feminine.

chapter |7 pages


chapter 1|29 pages

The certainties of difference and their difficulty

Desire and the symptom

chapter 2|11 pages

Her skin against the rocks, the rocks against the sky

Revisiting Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) after Morley’s The Falling (2014) and Freud’s fable of female hysteria 1

chapter 3|18 pages

Growing up girl in the ’hood

Vulnerability, violence and the girl-gang state of mind in Bande de Filles/Girlhood 1

chapter 4|12 pages

Revisiting Joan Riviere

chapter 6|13 pages

Self-recreation through the uncanny encounter

Reading the feminine close-up in cinema

chapter 7|16 pages

River’s edge

The ebb and flow of feminine ex-sistence

chapter 8|22 pages

Under Her Skin

On Woman without body and body without Woman

chapter 9|17 pages

Desire, commitment and the transformative power of touch

The posthuman femme fatale in Under the Skin

chapter 10|27 pages


Queer tales of femininity

chapter 11|13 pages


Bracha L. Ettinger and the transgression with-in-to the Feminine

chapter 13|11 pages

A #MeToo moment in communist Poland

A short story

chapter 14|3 pages