Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Cultural Studies, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Eve Oishi

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Luis-Brown

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Darrell Moore

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Joshua Goode

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Jung-Hsien Lin


Cultural Studies, Ethics, Lacan, Love, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity

Subject Categories

American Literature | Comparative Literature


This dissertation explores one of the four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis, as suggested by Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), which is transference. Broadly defined, transference refers to the relationship between the analyst and the analysand transpiring during the analytic process. Although Sigmund Freud and Lacan have presented contrasting views with regards to the term, both of them share one common ground, that is, taking transference to be the aim of the psychoanalytic practices. Due to its theoretical divergences and convergences, debates about transference have focused on whether or not such an analytic aim is truly ethical. What complicates the discussion of ethics in the field of psychoanalysis is the role of desire, along with its intervention in transference and love, specifically the nature of its intersubjectivity and the question of authenticity. If transference marks the aim of an analytic treatment, what kind of Lacanian subject awaits at the end of the process and in what way could this new subjectivity and praxis be ethically useful? This is the main question this project sets out to investigate. The central claim of Intimate Stranger, Strange Intimacy is that transference love opens up an ethical condition in which the subject could recognize the truth concerning one’s own desire, which provides the opportunity for radical change in one’s subjectivity but the subject must act in accordance with the truth. In the Lacanian terminology, the act is ethical because the

subject must be held accountable for such an act, which should be distinguished from actions. The ethics in question is the ethics of psychoanalysis, qua an ethics of desire. As the recognition of truth alters the subject’s relation to the desire of the Other, it thus denotes a reconstitution of the subject’s symptom and a reconfiguration of its own subjectivity, corresponding to what Lacan means by “traversing the fantasy and identify with the sinthôme.” To illustrate such a process, I designate an original model, the sinthômethics, built on several of Lacan’s core concepts (i.e. Four Discourses, ethics of desire, transference etc.), and I unpack its intricacies by conducting two case studies, André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name (2007) and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2013). Different from traditional literary analysis, my method traces the unfolding of desire but not of text; that is, what I attempt to illustrate through my reading of these two texts is concerned solely with Lacan’s teaching and to what extent psychoanalysis is, in effect, a praxis approachable as a way of life, but not with making a generalizable literary theory applicable for approaching literature at large.

With the sinthômethics, I hope to demonstrate the ways in which transference love provides an ethical condition for the subject to return to the Self, the truth of one’s own desire. Such a model issues forth both a reminder and a reconsideration of the analytic goal in the Lacanian framework, that is, the core of any theoretical endeavors should be praxis. Yet, rather than to “cure” or “free” the subject of its own symptoms, what Lacan aims to achieve at the end of all analytic processes, I argue, is to produce a subject that is capable of taking care of its Self. To that end, the subject must first be able to acknowledge the truth of its own desire, which is the main objective of transference love. To know the Self truthfully as a way to care for the Self— that is the way of the sinthômethics, and it is the (Real) ethical imperative of a Lacanian subject.