The Journey from Compliancy to Intimate Revolt: A Kristevan Reading of Sam Shepard’s Three Major Plays

Forough Emam, Shideh Ahmadzadeh


The study intends to examine three major plays of Sam Shepard –True West, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind– to explore the underlying reasons for the characters’ social transgression in the light of Julia Kristeva’s theory of intimate revolt. Notwithstanding that all the characters feel alienated from reality and other members of society, there is a marked divergence between male and female characters in the approach they adopt to revolt against the societal norms so as to transform their lives. The findings suggest that while men seem less likely to revolt against the rules of patriarchy, it is predominantly women who embark on revolting against the psyche-numbing society to bring jouissance to their once-predetermined meaningless lives. The study comes to the conclusion that by reconnecting with their personal desire and preserving their individuality in a society that hegemonizes its subjects’ identities, women engage in what Kristeva calls ‘intimate revolt’ and become the forces of power and change in the modern world.


Intimate Revolt, Identity Crisis, Feminine Subjectivity, Jouissance

Full Text:



Banks, Rosemarie. “Self as Other: Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love and A Lie of the Mind.” Feminist Rereading of Modern American Drama. Edited by June Schlueter. London; Toronto: Associated UP, 1989: 227-40.

Baudrillard, Jean. America. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1988.

Blackburn, John. “Portrait of the Artist: Sam Shepard and the Anxiety of Identity.” MA thesis, University of Virginia, 1996.

Blaser, Audra. “Beyond Bedrooms and Kitchens: A Critical Analysis of the Mother Figures in Sam Shepard’s Family Plays.” MA thesis, University of Colorado, 2004.

Busby, Mark. “Sam Shepard and Frontier Gothic.” Frontier Gothic: Terror and Wonder at the Frontier in American Literature. Edited by David Mogen, Scott P. Sanders, and Joanne B. Karpinski. London: Associated UP, 1993: 84–93.

Clum, John M. “The Classic Western and Sam Shepard’s Famiy Sagas.” The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard. Edited by Matthew Roudané. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002: 171-188.

Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black and Red, 1983.

Guberman, Ross Mitchell, editor. Julia Kristeva Interviews. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Hall, Ann C. A Kind of Alaska: Women in the Plays of O'Neill, Pinter, and Shepard. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Keltner, Stacy. Kristeva: Thresholds. Cambridge: Polity, 2011.

Knowles, Scott C. “Locating American Masculinity With(out)in the Male: Sam Shepard’s Kicking a Dead Horse, Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Pretty , and Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song.” MA thesis, The Florida State University, 2010.

Kristeva, Julia. Hatred and Forgiveness. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Kristeva, Julia. Intimate Revolt: The Powers and Limits of Psychoanalysis. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Kristeva, Julia. New Maladies of the Soul. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Kristeva, Julia. The Revolution of Poetic Language. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

Kristeva, Julia. The Sense and Non-sense of Revolt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

McAfee, Noëlle. Julia Kristeva. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Oliver, Kelly. Colonization of Psychic Space: A Psychoanalytic Social Theory of Oppression. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2004.

Restuccia, Frances L. The Blue Box: Kristevan/Lacanian Readings of Contemporary Cinema. London: Continuum International Pub. Group, 2012.

Rosen, Carol. “Silent Tongues: Sam Shepard’s Explorations of Emotional Territory.” Village Voice, 4 August 1992, 35–36.

Roudané, Matthew. “Shepard on Shepard: An Interview.” The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard. Edited by Matthew Roudané. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002: 64-80.

Schvey, Henry I. “A Worm in the Wood: The Father-Son Relationship in the Plays of Sam Shepard.” Modern Drama, 36, 1, 1993, 12-26.

Shepard, Sam. “A Lie of the Mind.” A Lie of the Mind and The War in Heaven. New York: New American Library, 1987, pp. 1-132.

Shepard, Sam. “Fool for Love.” Fool for Love and Other Plays. New York: Bantam Books, 1984, pp. 19-57.

Shepard, Sam. “True West.” Sam Shepard: Seven Plays. New York: Bantam Books, 1981, pp. 1-59.

Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. New York: Holt, 1963.

Volks, Carolyn Dana. “The Representation of Women in the Plays of Sam Shepard.” MA thesis, Rhodes University, 1994.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.