(Self-)Translation and Melancholia: Becoming-In-Language A Psychoanalytic View

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2008


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Bruce Fink

Committee Member

Colleen Carney

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher


language, subjectivity, melancholia, translation, psychoanalysis


This dissertation focuses on the issue of migration and the sense of displacement caused by migration by studying the consequences of bi- or polylingual identity that is formed in the context of migration. It examines the narrated experience of a woman, Eva Hoffman, who became bilingual due to her involuntary immigration to another country as a teenager. A qualitative methodological approach to the linguistic memoir was chosen in response to the sparce psychoanalytic literature which directly addresses the issue of bilingualism, despite the abundance and intensity of the phenomenon of exile and uprooting in the contemporary world. The memoir is explored from a broad poststructural perspective on language and subjectivity, which emphasizes the linguistic production of one's subjectivity. This perspective allows for a theoretical grounding of the exploration in the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva. Eva Hoffman's "linguistic memoir," which describes her dislocation and estrangement in a second language and culture, allows for a detailed examination of the relationships among femininity, embodiment, culture, and language shifts, against the backdrop of melancholia and nostalgia as understood in Kristeva's theory. More specifically, Kristeva's theory of melancholia and estrangement in relation to linguistic loss is utilized. The exploration of Eva Hoffman's memoir in this dissertation has two general outcomes: it furthers the conversation, which to date has been rare and scarce, about the consequences of bilingualism in clinical settings (most often exemplified by discussion of bi- or multilingual therapies); and on a broader level it illuminates the predicament of the uprooted peoples of the 20th century from a psychoanalytic perspective.





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