Shoshana Felman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Shoshana Felman
Alma materUniversity of Grenoble (Ph.D.)
OccupationProfessor, writer
EmployerEmory University
Known forliterary critic and theorist
AwardsChevalier de l'ordre des palmes academiques (awarded by French government in 1982),[1] American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow (2010).[2]
WebsiteOfficial website

Shoshana Felman is an American literary critic and current Woodruff Professor of Comparative Literature and French at Emory University. She was on the faculty of Yale University from 1970 to 2004, where in 1986 she was awarded the Thomas E. Donnelly Professorship of French and Comparative Literature.[3] She specializes in 19th and 20th century French literature, psychoanalysis, trauma and testimony, and law and literature. Felman earned her Ph.D. at the University of Grenoble in France in 1970.


Felman works in the fields of psychoanalytic literary criticism, performativity theory, feminism, Holocaust testimony, and other areas, though her writings frequently question, ironize, or test the limits of the very critical methods being employed. Often in her writing a reversal will occur so that the critical vocabulary gets subjected to and converted into the terms of the literary or cultural object being scrutinized rather than simply settling the meaning of the object; thus in Felman's style of criticism there is no fixed hierarchy of theory over and beyond the reach of the literary object.[4] As such, her methods share an affinity with deconstruction, for which she is sometimes associated with the Yale School and colleagues such as Paul de Man.

Jacques Lacan is a significant influence on Felman and she was among the vanguard of theorists—and perhaps foremost among those addressing Anglophone audiences[5]—to rigorously apply his concepts to the study of literature.

Since the 1990s Felman has written texts on testimony and trauma, particularly in the context of the Holocaust and other collective trauma.[6]


  • The Claims of Literature: The Shoshana Felman Reader, ed. by Emily Sun, Eyal Peretz, Ulrich Baer, Fordham University Press, 2007
  • The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Press, 2002
  • What Does a Woman Want? Reading and Sexual Difference, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993
  • Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature Psychoanalysis and History (co-authored with Dori Laub, M.D.) (1992)
  • Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture (1987)
  • Editor, Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading–Otherwise (1982)
  • Le Scandale du corps parlant. Don Juan avec Austin, ou la Séduction en deux langues (1980), translated as The Literary Speech Act. Don Juan with Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages (1984), reissued as The Scandal of the Speaking Body. Don Juan with Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages (2002)
  • Writing and Madness: Literature/Philosophy/Psychoanalysis (1985), reissued with added materials and interviews (2003)
  • La Folie et la chose littéraire (1978)
  • La "Folie" dans l'oeuvre romanesque de Stendhal (1971).


  1. ^ Richard Lane, Fifty Key Literary Theorists, New York: Routledge, 2006, p. 92
  2. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects Emory's Felman". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ Richard Lane, Fifty Key Literary Theorists, p. 92
  4. ^ From early in her career Felman has been described as "represent[ing] an approach to writing which attempts to free the language of the literary text from the domination, mastery, and directives of 'literary criticism.'" Review by Robert C. Carroll of La Folie et la chose littéraire and Le Scandale du corps parlant, MLN, Vol. 96, No. 4 (May, 1981), pp. 897–905. To observe this in extended practice see Le Scandale du corps parlant or the essay "Turning the Screw of Interpretation"
  5. ^ Review by Robert Con Davis of Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture, MLN, Vol. 103, No. 5, Comparative Literature (Dec., 1988), p.1159: "Shoshana Felman demonstrates [...] that she is a major reader of Jacques Lacan, probably _the_ major interpreter of Lacan in America. Authoritative, wide-ranging, and yet always lucid, she has helped to shape Lacanian studies since the middle 1970s."
  6. ^ "People: Felman". Department of French & Italian. Emory University. Retrieved 24 January 2018.

External links[edit]