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Mimicry

STEPHEN MORTON


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405183123.2011.x


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Mimicry in its conventional sense is the action, practice, or art of copying or closely imitating, or reproducing through mime (OED). In this definition, mimicry is closely related to mimesis or the practice of representation in literature, performance, and the visual arts. Yet in contrast to mimesis, which often seeks to reproduce an image of the object that is being copied, mimicry can have a humorous and even subversive potential that deliberately sets out to challenge the meaning of the object that is being copied or represented. This is not to say that the act or practice of imitation is restricted to literature and the visual arts, however, since the imitation of other human beings is also one of the formative processes through which children learn to speak, act, and perform as socialized human subjects. Furthermore, in biology, the practice of mimicry denotes the close external resemblance of an animal or plant to another, or to an inanimate object (OED) , in some instances as a tactic of self-defense. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has provided a significant account of mimicry, which has influenced some of the most well-known theories of mimicry, especially that of the postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha, the feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray, and the social theorist Judith Butler. In his Seminar XI, published in English as The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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