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Freud's Uncanny and Speculative Elegy

Curtis, Abi (2020) Freud's Uncanny and Speculative Elegy. Oxford Literary Review, 42 (2). pp. 175-178.

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In ‘The Dark Ecology of Elegy’ (2010) Timothy Morton suggests a radical notion of incomplete mourning for the planet. That we must mourn, and do mourn, through our literature, before the full loss of environment, a human home becoming increasingly ‘unhomely’. He says, ‘The really difficult elegiac work would consist in bringing into full consciousness the reality of human and nonhuman interdependence, in a manner that threatens the comfortable way in which humans appear in the foreground and everything else in the background.’ (256) In this piece, I aim to explore how this idea can be illuminated by the notion in Freud’s ‘Uncanny’ (1919) that the uncanny impression can be created by an unexpected shift in position, (‘in which one does not know where one is’) in this case the position of the reader or writer in relation by the power of a ‘speculative’ fiction to evoke mourning. I will also draw on the work of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok (1994) in their work on mourning and melancholia and the concepts of ‘introjection’ and ‘incorporation’. I want to propose the term ‘speculative elegy’ in relation to certain kinds of climate change or environmental fictions, including the one briefly mentioned by Freud himself in his essay, the short story ‘Inexplicable’ by L. G. Moberly (1917). Such fictions uncannily project and mourn for a natural world not yet passed and disrupt the comfortable and fantastic separation between human and ‘nature’.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: 10:3366/olr.2020.0313
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4196

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