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Book Chapter

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University of California Press


In this work, I expose the shadowy presence of this non-Oedipal counterthesis in the cultural texts on religion. My sources are not only Freud's four major "cultural texts," Totem and Taboo, The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism, but also some of his shorter writings related to religion and mythology ("Medusa's Head" and "The Theme of the Three Caskets," for example), and some of his writings which address religious themes and issues only indirectly (such as "Thoughts for the Times on War and Death" and The Interpretation of Dreams). All of these are "cultural texts" in a larger sense (Homans '1989: 196). They are not only about intrapsychic or interpersonal dynamics, but also about the intersections of body, psyche, and society. They address the sources and meanings of the fragile "achievements of our civilization" (SE 14: 307) embodied in art, literature, philosophy, ethics, religion, science, and education. Within these cultural texts, broadly defined, the counterthesis is apparent at several sites: it is particularly evident in Freud's writings on the maternal body, death and the afterlife, Judaism and anti-Semitism, and in his writings on mourning and melancholia.

Chapter of

Speaking the Unspeakable: Religion, Misogyny, and the Uncanny Mother in Freud's Cultural Texts


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