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Title: Bracha Ettinger's theory of the matrix : contexts and commentary
Author: Johnson, Anna Louise
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis aims to provide a systematic critical reading of the theory of matrix and metramorphosis proposed by artist and theorist Bracha Ettinger, in order to establish the implications of this proposition. There is a growing literature surrounding Ettinger's work, but only a small number of studies directly approach her theoretical formulations, and even fewer in the mode of a systematic critique. In an opening overview of the emergence and development of the theory of the matrix, Ettinger's theoretical methodology is analysed in some detail. This analysis reveals, among other things, that this theory is implicated in psychoanalysis in such a way that refuses its division into distinct and competing orthodoxies. This thesis aims to take seriously that positioning by opening and examining a series of critical spaces between the theory of the matrix and related but divergent approaches to a number of key issues that identify the limits of psychoanalysis. After the OvelTiew, the thesis is divided into three chapters that represent sites that inform the limits of the psychoanalytic field, two from without-the feminine and aesthetics-and two from within-the unconscious and transference. Chapter 1 considers Ettinger's theory alongside Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray, and approaches the feminine from the angle of the limitations imposed upon subjectivity by the representation of intra-uterine life as undifferentiated and as such divorced from all subjectivising potential. Chapter 2 approaches the limitations at play in the negotiation of art and aesthetics by psychoanalysis, looking specifically at the work of Marion Milner as an exemplary psychoanalytic attempt to account for artistic creativity through archaic relationality. Ettinger's own writing on art will appear partly as a critique of the limits of Milner's attempt, but will also present an example of a singular solution to the position of art beyond the limits of psychoanalysis. Chapter 3 considers the unconscious and transference as the sites "vhich can most specifically reflect the relationship of the theory of the matrix to the limits of psychoanalysis. An examination of Jean Laplanche's rigorous re-foundation of the psychoanalytic field alongside Felix Guattari's insistence upon the irrelevance of disciplinary fidelity, situates Ettinger's theory as related, but assimilable to neither position. A final consideration of transference explores the concrete limits of the analytical relationship, and the nature of its relation to a non-analytical exterior. Ettinger's work on this area in particular seeks to position the work of art as an extrapsychoanalytical means of reconfiguring the clinical field. Together, these chapters produce the theory of the matrix as an inter-theoretical assemblage that puts at risk the comfortable demarcation lines of psychoanalytical orthodm,:y, and which, especially in its most recent articulations, insists upon a re-examination and reconfiguration of the various limits that constitute the dynamic and heterogeneous field of psychoanalysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available