If Kristeva’s theory of literature depends on a critique of linguistics’ approach to the literary object, it arguably depends even more on her deep investment in psychoanalysis’ approach to the human subject. But it is unhelpful to say that Kristeva is a psychoanalytic literary theorist if we do not first consider what that label means from the inside, as it were: an intellectual commitment with a history, developed in dialogue with theorists of the past and the present. This chapter will outline what has been at stake in the psychoanalytic theory of the subject since Freud and will identify Kristeva’s place in that history. In so doing, it will also show how psychoanalytic theory influences her approach to literature and how literature, in turn, gives force to her provocative vision of subjectivity.
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