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Sensible Ecstasy

Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History

Sensible Ecstasy

Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History

Sensible Ecstasy investigates the attraction to excessive forms of mysticism among twentieth-century French intellectuals and demonstrates the work that the figure of the mystic does for these thinkers. With special attention to Georges Bataille, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, and Luce Irigaray, Amy Hollywood asks why resolutely secular, even anti-Christian intellectuals are drawn to affective, bodily, and widely denigrated forms of mysticism.

What is particular to these thinkers, Hollywood reveals, is their attention to forms of mysticism associated with women. They regard mystics such as Angela of Foligno, Hadewijch, and Teresa of Avila not as emotionally excessive or escapist, but as unique in their ability to think outside of the restrictive oppositions that continue to afflict our understanding of subjectivity, the body, and sexual difference. Mystics such as these, like their twentieth-century descendants, bridge the gaps between action and contemplation, emotion and reason, and body and soul, offering new ways of thinking about language and the limits of representation.

384 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Religion and Postmodernism

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Medieval Studies

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Christianity, Religion and Literature

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
I. Georges Bataille, Mystique
Introduction: "the philosopher—Sartre—and me"
1 The Scandal of the Real
2 Mysticism, Trauma, and Catastrophe in Angela of Foligno’s Book and Bataille’s Atheological Summa
3 From Image to Text: Photography, Writing, and Communication
II. (En)gendering Mysticism
Introduction: From Woundedness to Castration; or, On the Gender of Mysticism
4 "Mysticism is tempting": Simone de Beauvoir on Mysticism, Metaphysics, and Sexual Difference
5 Jacques Lacan, Encore: Feminine Jouissance, the Real, and the Goal of Psychoanalysis
III. Feminism, Mysticism, and Belief
Introduction: Feminism and Psychoanalysis in France
6 From Lack to Fluidity: Luce Irigaray, La Mystérique
7 Sexual Difference and the Problem of Belief
8 Ventriloquizing Hysteria: Fetishism, Trauma, and Sexual Difference


American Academy of Religion: American Academy of Religion Awards for Excellence

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