Baroque Bodies: Psychoanalysis and the Culture of French Absolutism

Synopsis

Mitchell Greenberg explores the significance of fantasies of the body in seventeenth-century France through provocative and subtle readings of some of the most intriguing texts of the period.

Beginning with an eloquent invocation of the status of the king in classical France, Greenberg surveys the complex sociopolitical history of Louis XIV's reign, analyzing both Moliere and the entire corpus of Racine. The central chapters of Baroque Bodies deal with such fascinating texts as the Memoires of the abbe de Choisy (the first existing account of a male cross-dresser); two founding texts of the modern pornographic genre, L'ecole des filles and L'academie des dames; and the "autobiography" of Marie de l'Incarnation, the famous "mystic" and founder of the first Ursuline convent in Canada.

In addition to his richly nuanced readings, Greenberg integrates into his argument material from a broad array of disciplines, including psychoanalysis, feminism, epistemology, and history. He also points out the implications of his argument for the political, theological, and historical thought of the period, moving effortlessly from witch trials in France to discussions of bodies in Renaissance English literary criticism to the works of Bakhtin, Foucault, Freud, and Lacan.