We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Womb Fantasies

Subjective Architectures in Postmodern Literature, Cinema, and Art

Caroline Rupprecht

Publication Year: 2013

Womb Fantasies examines the womb, an invisible and mysterious space invested with allegorical significance, as a metaphorical space in postwar cinematic and literary texts grappling with the trauma of post-holocaust, postmodern existence. In addition, it examines the representation of visible spaces in the texts in terms of their attribution with womb-like qualities.  The framing of the study historically within the postwar era begins with a discussion of Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair in the context of the Cold War’s need for safety in light of the threat of nuclear destruction, and ranges over films such as Marguerite Duras’ and Alan Resnais’ film Hiroshima mon amour and Duras’ novel The Vice-Consul, exploring the ways that such cultural texts fantasize the womb as a response to trauma, defined as the compulsive need to return to the site of loss, a place envisioned as both a secure space and a prison. The womb fantasy is linked to the desire to recreate an identity that is new and original but ahistorical.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

Chapter 3 was published in Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature in 2010, and parts of chapters 1 and 2 were published in South Central Review in 2006. I received a travel grant to conduct research in Germany from the PSC-CUNY Foundation in 2008 and a faculty leave fellowship from Queens College in 2007–8. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

In January 2005, while lecturing in France, I had occasion to visit the World Heritage site of Lascaux. The mysterious interior of the cave and its paintings have inspired this book. I imagined cave dwellers seeking shelter at the mouth of a cave, then venturing further inside to perform their most sacred rites. ...

read more

Frontispiece - Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair as Fallout Shelter

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 3-8

With the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States demonstrated, for the first time in history, that it was now possible to annihilate the world’s entire population. Not surprisingly, during the Cold War and the nuclear arms race, Americans began to construct underground bomb shelters. ...

Part One: Geographies

read more

Chapter 1 - Agoraphobia: Marguerite Duras’s Hiroshima mon amour and The Vice-Consul

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 11-36

In the postwar European imagination, the womb appears as a point of origin and retreat, as well as a “tomb” from which to be (re)born. French author Marguerite Duras (1914–1996) depicts this at once threatening and comforting symbolic space as linked to the dual trauma of France’s colonialism in Indochina ...

read more

Chapter 2 - Heterotopia: Alexander Kluge’s Yesterday Girl and The Blind Director

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 37-54

This chapter turns to the German context, where coming to terms with the past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung) was a central occupation during the decades following World War II and the Holocaust. Like Duras and Resnais, experimental German filmmaker Alexander Kluge (b. 1932)—two of whose films I discuss here— ...

Part Two: Boundaries

read more

Chapter 3 - Matricide: Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries: From the Life of Gesine Cresspahl

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 57-76

Whereas I have discussed womb-like spaces and mother figures in the first half of this book, I now address the question to what extent the (male) subject who creates such representations projects himself into those spaces—and thereby expresses a desire to become one with the maternal body. ...

read more

Chapter 4 - Womb Envy: Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, A Woman Is a Woman, and Hail Mary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 77-96

Compared to Uwe Johnson’s tortured representation of “reality” as subjective experience, which I have discussed in my previous chapter, Jean- Luc Godard uses his camera to render “interiority” visible. The question of representation on film is a question of what is contained by, or exceeds, the frame, ...

read more

End Piece - The Future Is Here, and It’s Dead: Damien Hirst’s Virgin Mother

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 97-106

Postmodernism, according to Fredric Jameson, is the “machinery of reproduction rather than production” that results in “the mere thematic representation of content—into narratives which are about [sic] the processes of reproduction and include movie cameras, video, tape recorders, the whole technology of reproduction” (37). ...


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 107-114

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 115-124


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 125-132

E-ISBN-13: 9780810166639
E-ISBN-10: 0810166631
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129139
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129132

Page Count: 148
Illustrations: 2 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1

OCLC Number: 867740236
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Womb Fantasies

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • German literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • French literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Human body in literature.
  • Human body in motion pictures.
  • Human beings in art.
  • Motherhood in literature.
  • Motherhood in motion pictures.
  • Motherhood in art.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access