The Hysterical Male: New Feminist Theory


272 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 0-920393-69-1
DDC 305.3




Edited by Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker
Reviewed by Alexander Craig

Alexander Craig, a journalist in Lennoxville, Quebec, was a political
science professor at the University of Western Ontario.


“If Ronald Reagan showed the signifier in a ‘permanent state of
depletion’ (the Barthesian third or obtuse meaning), then Bush
proffers another signs strategy; the obliquity of the seducer who knows
how to let the signs hang.” So reads the start of the final paragraph
of this book.

Do postmodernists and semioticians speak largely, if not almost
entirely, to themselves? This collection of 16 articles, in the series
Culture Texts, claims to be “an intense, provocative and creative
theorization of feminism under the falling sign of the unitary male
subject.” The introduction shows us how “the theorisations in this
book are written under the sign of the falling penis as the emblematic
marker of postmodern subjectivity.” Hence we encounter sections like
“Phallus of Mallice,” where “the image of the ejaculating women
substitutes for the disappearing penis . . . nominate new feminist
theory in light of the inverted world of the male hysteric.”

Teresa Podlesney, a graduate student in New York University’s
Department of Cinema Studies, writes on “the construction of whiteness
and womanhood.” She “maps the connection between
neo-manifest-destinarianism, revisionist histories of the Western US,
Cinemascope and hair colour technologies” (her essay’s

Other essays look at, to take three at random, “Lacanian
Psychoanalysis and Feminist Metatheory,” “Confessions of a Harlequin
Reader: The Myth of Male Mothers,” and “The Fetish in Sex, Lies &
Videotape: Whither the Phallus?” Intense and provocative some of these
essays definitely are—in parts. Whether they succeed in creating new
feminist theory will be up to the intrepid reader to decide.


“The Hysterical Male: New Feminist Theory,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,