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Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

Gut Feminism

Elizabeth A. Wilson
Elizabeth A. Wilson

Elizabeth A. Wilson is Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University and the author of Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body, also published by Duke University Press.

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Book Chapter

Bitter Melancholy

August 2015

This chapter considers the relation between depression and hostility and feminist politics. The chapter begins by discussing the importance of thinking about depression as a kind of aggression directed outward, arguing that the popular anger-turned-inward hypothesis of depression is less useful than has been assumed in the feminist and critical literatures. Using Freud and Abraham’s work on melancholia, and clinical studies of merycism (repeated regurgitation and swallowing of food), this chapter argues that loss is not simply something that happens to the melancholic. Rather, losses/attacks/destruction are also one of the things that the melancholic enacts in relation to the objects she or he loves. The chapter closes with a discussion of two examples where this analysis could expand feminist thinking: Judith Butler’s response to being verbally attacked, and feminist/critical commentary on the killing of Lawrence King.

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