This week's Shadow of a Doubt forum is optional, but you will be expected to have responses to the following questions for an academic skills assignment in class. Consider responding to one of the following questions in the forum to help prepare. As you brainstorm your answers, consider using formal qualities of the film (performance style, dialogue, mise-en-scence, objects, locations) to include as part of your evidence. Please feel free to push your analyses as far as you can take them. Good luck!
1) From its inception, psychoanalysis has been interested in the dynamics of infantile sexuality within the nuclear family. Arguably, Shadow of a Doubt is a film about a "perverse" sexuality at the heart of the "average" American family. Analyze the role of sexuality, identification, and family complexes in the film. How is (sublimated) sexuality staged in the Shadow of a Doubt? How does it manifest itself between characters including: Uncle Charlie, Young Charlie, Emma (mother), Jack (father), Herb (father's "friend"), and Joseph (FBI agent). What role might the "weak" father play in shaping alternative circuits of desire in the film? You may consider Oedipal dynamics, castration anxiety, and contests over "being and having the phallus" in your response.
2) Psychoanalysis has long been interested in the concept of the "double." The double is the "other" that seems to be an uncanny reflection of my self; the one who reveals facets of my character that are typically repressed. Doubles may be attractive for the hidden possibilities they reveal, but also profoundly destabilizing of my "imagined" sense of self. In Shadow of a Doubt, how do pairs of characters, but also physical locations, and even conceptions of the "law" reveal repressed and potentially disturbing elements? How might the double reveal an "other side" to characters, relationships, and even the symbolic order itself (in this film, normative America)? How might doubling provide glimpses into the order of the real?
3) Lacan believed that subjects, in response to their own inevitable sense of lack, sustain themselves with fantasies about the unlimited enjoyment of the other. I may be lacking, we say to ourselves, but somewhere out there "fullness" is possible. These fantasies of the other's enjoyment can take on both "positive" and "negative" connotations (from loving idealization to raging paranoia). How do the characters in Shadow of a Doubt, including young Charlie, uncle Charlie, Emma, Jack, and Herb, imagine the enjoyment of the other? What do their fantasies reveal about their subjectivity? How do they change (or not change) over time?
Looking forward to hearing your answers!
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