This study brings the songs of the ‘trouvères’ to an encounter with Lacanian psychoanalytic theories of signification, sexual difference and unconscious desire. In ‘trouvère’ song desire functions as a means of generic and 'genderic' differentiation. The ‘trouvères’ distinguished between sexual need or lust and desire, the latter usually confined to the masculine voice in high style. Less exalted persons, in whose company women were already implicitly included, appear as incapable of desire in the ‘fin'amors’ register. Critics have treated the issue of desire as represented in the courtly ‘chanson’ but, because criticism has followed the ‘trouvères'’ distinction between desire and need, discussion of desire has been limited to songs in the courtly register rather than across the system of genres. Desire in Lacan's sense, that is unconscious desire, is present in all genres and voices and this book unearths the unspoken desires of ‘trouvère’ song by an attention to the characteristic means by which subjects subvert their demands in different genres. HELEN DELL is a research fellow in English Literary Studies in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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