The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature

By Juliana Schiesari | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Black Humor? Gender and Genius
in the Melancholic Tradition

Jennifer Radden's contention, following Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, that Western medical and philosophical practices have contributed to sexist ideology by describing women as "sick" or as "potentially sickening to man" is borne out by the tradition of humoral medicine. In particular, the impairment brought on by the melancholy humor is described as either a privileged state of inspired genius from which women are implicitly or explicitly excluded, or a pathological state—a disease—whose onset in men often refers back to some intrusive "femininity." And on the few occasions when melancholia afflicts women, it is said to occur because of the essentialized frailty and inadequacy of their "nature" (as that melancholic prince per eccellenza, Hamlet, says of his mother: "Frailty thy name is woman"). Indeed, melancholia in women is often diagnosed in terms of lack in regard to the phallus, a condition known as erotomania. 1 The divergence, however, between

____________________
1
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Cvrus Hoy ( New York: Norton, 1963), I, ii, 146. Gertrude's "frailty," as condemned by Hamlet, is that of erotomania. He accuses her of marrying too soon after his father's death: "O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer" (I, ii, 150-51). Ophelia too would have been diagnosed as erotomanic. Cf. Elaine Showalter, " Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism," in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman ( New York: Methuen, 1985), pp. 77-105; and Jacqueline Rose, Sexuality in the Field of Vision ( London: Verso, 1986), p. 139. Sappho, of course, appears on many lists of melancholics but precisely to the extent that she represents erotomania. On melancholia and female erotomania, see Jacques Ferrand, A Treatise on Lovesickness, trans. and ed. Donald A.

-96-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 278

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.