Personal and Emotional Meaning in the Development of Subjective Gender: Girls, Cultural Texts, and Psychoanalytic Theory

By Lana Zannettino.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article had its genesis during a doctoral study that examined the role of literary and filmic texts in constructing adolescent girls’ subjectivities and desires for womanhood. Analysing data drawn from both text and subject, the study looked at the discursive choreography of girls’ imaginary constructions of their mature adult selves. Aspects of the research data, however, were not so readily understood in terms of discourse, prompting the need for alternative explications of subjectification from a psychoanalytic perspective. Bringing the recent work of Nancy Chodorow to bear on my analysis of girls’ descriptions of their favourite texts and imagined futures, I demonstrate here how subjectivity is a personal as well as cultural construction. Girls’ experience of themselves as gendered subjects is not simply a direct internalisation of stories and characters, but a complex psychodynamic process in which texts and other cultural and discursive phenomena are given emotional tonality and personal meaning. These personal meanings are just as powerful in the formation of subjective gender as are discourse and culture.

Keywords: Psychodynamic Processes, Psychoanalytic Theory, Adolescent Girls, Gendered Identities, Literary and Filmic Texts, Subjectivity, Identity, Imagined Futures

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.243-252. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 525.600KB).

Dr. Lana Zannettino

Research Fellow, Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia, Magill, South Australia, Australia

Lana is a research fellow in the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies at the University of South Australia. Before joining the Hawke in May 2006, she worked for four years as a researcher and lecturer in the Gendered Violence Research Unit located in the School of Social Work and Social Policy. Lana's PhD research examined the discursive and emotional development of subjective gender and identity through an analysis of the relationship between particular literary and filmic texts and adolescent girls’ imaginary constructions of their mature adult selves. Her research interests include gender and identity, teenage literature and popular culture, gendered violence and the sociology of survivorship, and feminist theory and research methodologies.


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