[French ‘enjoyment’, connoting jouir ‘to come’ in the sexual sense]
1. In psychoanalytic theory, for Lacan, an erotic ecstasy beyond the Freudian ‘pleasure principle’, akin to the ‘death drive’ since entering the symbolic order requires its loss, normalizing and regulating pleasure (plaisir). The subsequent lack of jouissance leads to a doomed quest for this lost plenitude. In Kristeva's feminist theory, Lacan's concept is transformed into jouissance féminine—the feminine libidinal drive repressed by the symbolic order.
2. In literary and cultural theory, for Barthes, textual bliss in reading which disrupts expectations and challenges the reader to participate (which he associates with writerly texts) as distinct from textual pleasure (plaisir): comfortable reading that confirms one's cultural assumptions, which he associates with the closed forms of readerly texts: see classic realist texts.
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