Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Gosselin, Adrienne

Subject Headings

Wideman, John Edgar -- Criticism and interpretation, Psychoanalysis in literature, African Americans in literature, Modernism (Literature) -- United States, African American Studies American Literature Modern Literature


Jacques Lacan's notion of the mirror stage of human development, formulated from the theories of Sigmund Freud, lies at the core of psychoanalytic theory. Fundamental components of the mirror stage include the concepts of Otherness and Identity. This examination proffers a critical reading of John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers, through a psychoanalytic matrix and contemporary constructions of Othering, Mirroring, and Identity. To that end, this examination traces the evolution of the ways subsequent scholars have understood, applied, and expanded Lacan's classical mirror stage, and its components. Nancy VanDerHeide transforms the solitary, individual, experience of Lacan's mirror stage into a dynamic, relational, and reciprocal system--Mirroring--possibly involving any number of persons. Most importantly, Michal Krumer-Nevo and Mirit Sidi have expanded Othering from a merely psychological process to a larger sociological process. Key conclusions include the identification of dangers inherent in the process of sociological Othering, and the importance of conscious resistance to that process. Moreover, John Edgar Wideman, in the effort to write the story of his brother's prison experience, reconstructs his own self-identification, and shares larger and particularly timely revelations