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


ByAgnieszka Piotrowska, Ben Tyrer

chapter 1|29 pages

The certainties of difference and their difficulty

Desire and the symptom
ByElizabeth Cowie

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
ByDavina Quinlivan

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
ByCaroline Bainbridge

chapter 4|12 pages

Revisiting Joan Riviere

ByVicky Lebeau

chapter 5|31 pages

Supplementary jouissance and feminine sexual rapport

ByBracha L. Ettinger

chapter 6|13 pages

Self-recreation through the uncanny encounter

Reading the feminine close-up in cinema
ByNava Dushi, Igor Rodin

chapter 7|16 pages

River’s edge

The ebb and flow of feminine ex-sistence
ByAllister Mactaggart

chapter 8|22 pages

Under Her Skin

On Woman without body and body without Woman
ByBen Tyrer

chapter 9|17 pages

Desire, commitment and the transformative power of touch

The posthuman femme fatale in Under the Skin
ByAgnieszka Piotrowska, Joseph Jenner

chapter 10|27 pages


Queer tales of femininity
ByWendy Leeks

chapter 11|13 pages


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

chapter 12|24 pages

A specimen of a commentary on Lacan’s ‘L’étourdit’

ByA. R. Price

chapter 13|11 pages

A #MeToo moment in communist Poland

A short story
ByAgnieszka Piotrowska

chapter 14|3 pages


ByPia Hylén