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Self-Analysis in Literary Study: Exploring Hidden Agends. Ed. Daniel Rancour-Laferriere. New York: New York University Press, 1994.
In recent years, self-analysis by scholars and teachers of literature has become something of a performance art. As practiced by its most extravagant and analytically brilliant performers, such as Jane Gallop, self-analysis functions as a kind of intellectual flirtation with transference and counter-transference. The critic does not so much reveal an identity as she performs one, assuming an erotically charged mask that may prove useful in identifying and probing the symptomatic features of a literary text or a specific cultural moment. Drawing on the work of both Gallop and Judith Butler, scholars who simultaneously analyze themselves and the texts (or students) that excite them have conferred upon the act of "impersonation" an ontological status; gender and identity are necessarily mutable, performable, although any performance is to varying degress commanded by the other(s) from whom -- as Bakhtin tells us -- we always anticipate a response.
Daniel Rancour-Laferriere's edited volume strives to keep its distance from the practice of self-analysis as a performing art. This is a calm, sober book, one which provides an excellent introduction to various types and applications of …