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Subjectivity as Encounter: Feminine Ethics in the Work of Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger and Anne Enright


  • Mariëlle Smith


The fragility of the subject is a recurring issue in the work of Anne Enright, one of Ireland's most remarkable and innovative writers. It is this specific interest, together with her attempt to make women into subjects, that inevitably links her work to Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger's theory of the matrixial borderspace, a feminine sphere that coexists with the Lacanian symbolic order and that, even before our entrance into this linguistic system, informs our subjectivity. By turning to a point in time before language—the encounter between “self” and “other” during pregnancy—both Enright and Ettinger test the boundaries of and the gaps within the linguistic system. It is the going before language that ultimately enables both to go beyond some of the most persistent dualisms present within the linguistic system and to create room for an alternative—a feminine—understanding of the ethical relationality between self and other.