Culture, Cognition, and Jean Laplanche's Enigmatic Signifier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cultural engagement is widely touted as a springboard for social change. Within the academy, engaging with cultural works is often used to promote the social value of literary and cultural studies. But to what degree have scholars conceived, and practiced, the act of reading--or, more broadly interpreting cultural texts--in problematic ways? Developing connections suggested by Laplanche between the primal situation of seduction and the situation of being 'addressed by' a cultural text, Stack argues against modes of critical reception which reduce the alterity and the enigmatic character of literary texts, domesticating them withing pre-existing critical idioms. In contract to such closed readings, identified as 'Ptolemaic', Stack proposes the notion of 'Copernican' reading, elaborated with reference to Laplanche's accounts of transference as well as sublimation/inspiration. Stack then demonstrates that the recipient of the cultural 'message' allows himself to be rehaped or reconfigured psychically by the enigmas by which he is interpellated--a mode of receptivity that requires us to rethink our entire relation to cultural texts: critically, pedagogically, and creatively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Theory, Culture
EditorsJohn Fletcher, Nicholas Ray
PublisherLawrence and Wishart Ltd
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781909831087
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Interpretation, Laplanche, Other, Text, Lacan, Wharton


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