Review Of "The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice In Psychoanalysis And Cinema" By K. Silverman

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The first work in the Indiana University Press series "Theories of Representation and Difference," ed. by Teresa de Lauretis, this powerfully argued study covers much more than its title might suggest. Starting with the assumption that "the sonic vraisemblable is sexually differentiated" and the female voice "a generator of gender-differentiated and erotically charged sounds," Silverman goes on to examine "the fantasy of the maternal-voice-as-sonorous-envelope'" and the disembodied female voice, a section based on the author's chapter in Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism, ed. by Mary Anne Doane et al. (CH, Nov '84). She closes with a discussion of the question of gendered authorship in film. Critical interpretations of Freud, Lacan, Chion, Kristeva, and Irigaray are persuasively linked to readings of films from the 1940s to the present, both commercial and avant-garde, dominant and feminist. Treatments of The Conversation and Riddles of the Sphinx are particularly compelling. Most crucially, via the female voice, this impressive work arrives at a psychoanalytic therory of feminity, a feminity separate from biological identity. Of interest to advanced undergraduate or graduate students.


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