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TNS Faculty Lana Lin – Freud’s Jaw and Other Lost Objects At UCB

For this presentation I will discuss my soon to be released book, which examines the vulnerability of the human body and asks how human beings contend with loss. Employing psychoanalytic theory and literary analysis, Freud’s Jaw and Other Lost Objects tracks three exemplary figures, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, poet Audre Lorde, and literary and queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Freud’s sixteen-year ordeal with a prosthetic jaw, the result of oral cancer, demonstrates the powers and failures of prosthetic objects in warding off physical and psychic fragmentation. Lorde’s life writing reveals how losing a breast to cancer is experienced as yet another attack directed toward her racially and sexually vilified body. Sedgwick’s memoir and breast cancer advice column negotiate her morbidity by disseminating a public discourse of love and pedagogy. I will present an overview of the book and then focus on my analysis of breast reconstruction as a form of fetishism. In making this argument, I rely on Lorde’s critique of the “prosthetic pretense” that constructs breast cancer as primarily a cosmetic concern and her subsequent bid for an intersectional reading of it as a Black lesbian feminist issue.

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