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Slavoj Žižek, Rex Libris, and the Traumatic Real: Representations of the library and the librarian in a modern comic book series

Gary P. Radford (Department of Communication Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, USA)
Marie L. Radford (Library and Information Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Mark Alpert (School of Communication and Information, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 October 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use the work of philosopher Slavoj Žižek to gain insights into representations of the librarian and the library in contemporary popular culture.

Design/methodology/approach

A psycho-analytic reading of the comic book series Rex Libris using Slavoj Žižek’s treatment of Jacques Lacan.

Findings

Žižek’s approach can provide novel and previously unconsidered insights into the understanding of librarian stereotypes in particular and representations of the library in general.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is limited to the representations of the librarian and the library in one comic book series. Its findings need to be generalized to representations in other forms of popular culture.

Originality/value

As far as the authors know, this is the only paper that has applied the work of Žižek in the library and information science (LIS) literature. As such, not only are the insights into the representations of librarians and libraries important, this paper also acts as a valuable introduction to the work of Žižek for the LIS community of scholars.

Keywords

Citation

Radford, G.P., Radford, M.L. and Alpert, M. (2015), "Slavoj Žižek, Rex Libris, and the Traumatic Real: Representations of the library and the librarian in a modern comic book series", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 6, pp. 1265-1288. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-08-2014-0116

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited