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This introduction provides an in-depth examination and illustration of the relevance of Slavoj Žižek’s work for literary studies. Challenging the widely held assumption among literary critics that Žižek’s work is far more germane to film and cultural studies, Sbriglia not only highlights and rehearses notable instances of Žižek’s reliance on literary texts to illustrate key concepts of Lacanian psychoanalysis and German Idealism—texts that include, among others, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Richard II, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove, and Franz Kafka’s The Trial—but, more crucially, also outlines the implications that Žižek’s work holds for literary criticism and theory more generally—implications that, as the book’s ensuing chapters demonstrate, span multiple literary historical periods, nationalities, and genres, as well as engage numerous theoretical fields, from semiotics, aesthetics, historicism, and ideology critique to feminism, postcolonialism, ecocriticism, and, of course, psychoanalysis.

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