For Fear of the Fire
Joan of Arc and the Limits of Subjectivity
Engaging a number of theorists, and alternating between Joan's historical and cultural context, Meltzer also explores the ways in which postmodern thinkers question subjectivity. She argues that the way masculine subjects imagine Joan betrays their fear of death and necessitates the role of women as cultural others: enigmatic, mysterious, dark, and impossible. As such, Joan serves as a useful model of the limits and risks of subjectivity. For Meltzer, she is both the first modern and the last medieval figure. From the ecclesial jury that burned her, to the theorists of today who deny their attraction to the supernatural, the philosophical assumptions that inform Joan's story, as Meltzer ultimately shows, have changed very little.