Queer Desire, Psychoanalytic Hermeneutics, and Love Lyric

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the intersection of psychoanalytic theory with queer theory, examining the similarities and differences between their respective accounts of sexuality. It traces the origins of queer theory to AIDS activism, women‐of‐color feminism, the philosophical deconstruction of sexual and gender identities, and the influence of Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality. The conceptual relationship between queer theory and psychoanalysis depends upon overlaps and divergences between the work of Foucault and Lacan, particularly on questions of identity, desire, normalization, and hermeneutics. This chapter assesses those overlaps and divergences by way of Thom Gunn's poems in the voice of Jeffrey Dahmer. It argues that Gunn, by situating the serial killer in the love lyric tradition, shows how Dahmer's desire, while excessive and aberrant, remains disturbingly close to normative and, indeed, culturally privileged forms of erotic desire.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture
EditorsLaura Marcus, Ankhi Mukherjee
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781118610169
ISBN (Print)9781405188609
StatePublished - Apr 4 2014


  • Heteronormativity
  • Identity
  • Interpretation
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Michel Foucault
  • Normalization
  • Queer theory
  • Sexuality
  • Thom Gunn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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