Authors: Juliet Mitchell

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English feminist and psychologist

Author Works

Nonfiction:

“Women: The Longest Revolution,” 1966 (essay)

Woman’s Estate, 1971

Psychoanalysis and Feminism: A Radical Reassessment of Freudian Psychoanalysis, 1974

Women: The Longest Revolution, 1984 (collected essays)

Mad Men and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria and the Effects of Sibling Relations on the Human Condition, 2000

Edited Texts:

The Rights and Wrongs of Women, 1976 (with Ann Oakley)

Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the École Freudienne, 1982 (with Jacqueline Rose)

What Is Feminism? A Re-examination by Nancy Cott, Linda Gordon, Judith Stacey, Juliet Mitchell, Ann Oakley, and Six Other Major Feminist Thinkers, 1986 (with Oakley)

The Selected Melanie Klein, 1986

Before I Was I: Psychoanalysis and the Imagination, 1993 (with Michael Parsons)

Who’s Afraid of Feminism? Seeing Through the Backlash, 1997 (with Oakley)

Biography

Juliet Mitchell is a leading writer, lecturer, and instructor of feminist, Marxist, and psychoanalytic thought. Born in New Zealand, Mitchell moved to England with her family in 1944 at the age of three and was educated at King Alfred School in Hampstead, London, and later at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, from which she received a degree in English in 1962. After postgraduate study at Oxford, she served as an assistant lecturer in English at the University of Leeds from 1962 to 1963 and then as a lecturer in English at the University of Reading from 1965 to 1970. In 1963, Mitchell became a member of the editorial board of New Left Review, a British neo-Marxist journal, and she published her seminal essay “Women: The Longest Revolution” in the journal three years later. Looking through a primarily socialist and feminist lens, Mitchell in her essay conducted a meticulous examination of the multifarious levels of women’s oppression. Several of her male colleagues responded negatively to the essay, prompting her to leave the journal. Subsequently, she facilitated the organization of the first British Women’s Liberation Conference in 1970 and worked within the London Women’s Liberation Workshop. In order to concentrate on writing and lecturing, Mitchell left full-time teaching in 1970.{$I[A]Mitchell, Juliet}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Mitchell, Juliet}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Mitchell, Juliet}{$I[tim]1940;Mitchell, Juliet}

Her first major text, Woman’s Estate, was published in 1971, and it further developed the ideas presented in “Women: The Longest Revolution.” In Woman’s Estate, Mitchell set out to ascertain the historical specificity of the burgeoning feminist movement, situating it within the framework of other social protests of the 1960’s. Locating women’s oppression in the workplace and the home, in social groups and the family unit, Mitchell asserted that women would never be truly freed until a major revision of all institutions, both public and private, occurred. Mitchell’s focus on the family unit and its function in social government led her to develop further her interest in psychoanalysis and brought about the 1974 publication of her book Psychoanalysis and Feminism. Here, Mitchell appropriated the work of Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, along with that of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, and argued that both psychoanalysts’ theories are pertinent to feminist thought. By questioning Freudian conceptions of fundamental patriarchal organizations and their relation to dominant ideology, Mitchell held that psychoanalysis possessed the means to comprehending the link between ideology and sexuality. She consequently began her training as a psychoanalyst at the Paddington Centre for Psychotherapy in London from 1975 to 1977, establishing and maintaining her own private practice from 1978 to 1996. In 1988 Mitchell became a full member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and the International Psychoanalytical Association as well as a member of the British Confederation of Psychotherapists in 1996. Continuing her focus on issues of psychoanalysis, her book Mad Men and Medusas charts the history of hysteria and discusses how distress and trauma find expression. Mitchell calls for further recognition of the influence of sibling and peer relationships on one’s psychological development.

Between 1971 and 1999, Mitchell acted as a visiting professor at colleges and universities on both sides of the Atlantic, including the State University of New York at Buffalo; the University of California, Santa Barbara; Stanford University; the Washington Institute of Psychiatry; the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; and the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. She was the first recipient of a professorship at large sponsored by the President’s Council of Cornell Women in 1993. In 1996 she became a lecturer in gender and society at Jesus College, Cambridge University and was promoted to professor of psychoanalysis and gender studies in 2000. Mitchell also serves as head of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge.

BibliographyBrown, Terry. “Feminism and Psychoanalysis: A Family Affair?” In Discontented Discourses: Feminism/Textual Intervention/Psychoanalysis, edited by Marleen S. Barr and Richard Feldstein. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989. Brown’s essay critiques Mitchell’s book Psychoanalysis and Feminism.Gallop, Jane. “Juliet Mitchell and the Human Sciences: Lacan and Feminism, Strange Bedfellows?” In Lacan and the Human Sciences, edited by Alexandre Leupin. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991. Gallop tackles the politics inherent in coupling the work of Jacques Lacan and feminism and considers Sigmund Freud’s role as predecessor to this relationship as she considers Mitchell’s collection Women: The Longest Revolution.Landes, Joan. “Juliet Mitchell.” In Biographical Dictionary of Neo-Marxism, edited by Robert A. Gorman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985. Landes’s entry in this dictionary provides a concise summation of Mitchell’s core arguments in her earlier texts.Mitchell, Juliet. “Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Politics: A Conversation with Juliet Mitchell.” Interview by Toril Moi. South Atlantic Quarterly 93, no. 4 (Fall, 1994): 925-949. This interview revisits the major themes of Mitchell’s book Psychoanalysis and Feminism twenty years after its initial publication.
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