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Julia Kristeva (1941 - )

Lifespan: 1941 -

Related: Tel Quel Magazine (1960 - 1982) - abjection - embodied philosophy - gender - semiotics - the other - post-structuralism - post-feminism - intertextuality

Julia Kristeva explores the place of the female in the patriarchy, or dominant social order. Like the American novelist Kathy Acker, she questions the whole idea of identity and asserts that the feminine has been marginalized and identified as Other. Other(ness) is a major buzzword in pomo feminist and minority discourse these days. For instance, female sexuality, in Western European culture, is frequently portrayed as a mysterious commodity with an aura that can be easily transferred to an artifact and purchased by the consumer. Americans have vulgarized this exotic romanticism to the point of unintentional parody by associating, for instance, bad beer with buxom bimbos. The only mystery, finally, is how anyone can be that stupid. -- PoMo to Go (1994) - R.U. Sirius

Powers of Horror (1980) - Julia Kristeva
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Julia Kristeva (born June 24, 1941) is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. Kristeva has become influential in today's critical analysis and cultural theory after publishing her first book Semeiotikč in 1969. Her innumerable books, essays and preface publications are of architectural importance, with their notions of intertextuality, the semiotic, and abjection, for the fields of linguistics, literary theory and criticism, psychoanalysis, biography and autobiography, political and cultural analysis, art and art history. Together with Barthes, Todorov, Goldmann, Genette, Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, Greimas, Foucault, and Althusser, she stands as one of the forefront structuralists, in that time when structuralism took major place in humanities. Her works also have an important place in post-structuralist thought. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Kristeva [mar 2007]

The Body

Theories of the body are particularly important for feminists because historically (in the humanities) the body has been associated with the feminine, the female, or woman, and denigrated as weak, immoral, unclean, or decaying. Throughout her writing over the last three decades, Kristeva theorized the connection between mind and body, culture and nature, psyche and soma, matter and representation, by insisting both that bodily drives are discharged in representation, and that the logic of signification is already operating in the material body. In New Maladies of the Soul, Kristeva describes the drives as "as pivot between 'soma' and psyche', between biology and representation" (30; see also Time and Sense). http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/Kristeva.html

Intertextuality [...]

Margaret Smaller conducted this interview in New York City in 1985. It was published in Intertextuality and Contemporary American Fiction. The translation is by Richard Macicsey. Kristeva speaks lucidly about her well-known notion of intertextuality, expressing her intellectual debt to Bakhtin's notion of dialogism while emphasizing that the intersection of voices surrounding an utterance concerns not only the semantic field but the syntactic and phonic fields. She introduces a psychoanalytic element into the notion of intertextuality by suggesting that the intertextuality of the creator and the reader make them "subject-in-process" whose psychic identity is put into question. Commenting on Nerval, Kristeva then contrasts modern poetry, described as more openly regressive" and direct, with the modern novel, which is said to result from a "working-out" of the self. She claims that the modern novel could thus be seen as a "kind of continuous lay analysis." Other questions have to do with melancholia (Kristeva was working on Back Sun at the time ot this interview). Psychoanalysis (which is said to link theory and practice more fortuitously than does Marxism or political commitment), and the political structure of the United States. Kristeva concludes by discussing her plans for writing fiction, including the project that would eventually become The Samurai. --http://www.erraticimpact.com/~feminism/html/women_kristeva_julia.htm

Powers of Horror (1980) - Julia Kristeva

Kristeva is one of the leading voices in contemporary French criticism, on a par with such names as Genette, Foucault, Greimas and others. . . . [Powers of Horror] is an excellent introduction to an aspect of contemporary French literature which has been allowed to become somewhat neglected in the current emphasis on paraphilosophical modes of discourse.

Kristeva's work associates women with the abject, the feminine, and the maternal body. These are not spaces from which a full subject speaks, and, because of this, the type of hysterical laugh that Kristeva describes Céline as possessing is not available in the same way to women writers. As a man, Céline is able to enter a carnivalesque space and laugh hysterically at the horror he finds when he confronts abjection. For a woman to perform the same laugh as Céline, she would have to perform some interesting gymnastics. First, she would need to become a full subject (to have the phallus, not lack it), then confront abjection while simultaneously rejecting and inhabiting the feminine. When a woman confronts abjection she also confronts herself, because the abject is a woman, the mother; and, while not all women are mothers, they do all maintain a connection to their mothers, psychoanalytically speaking, that the male subject does not. Thus, the woman who confronts abjection is theoretically already the abject and is, therefore, already speaking from the place which Céline works to enter. -- Trudy Mercer for http://www.drizzle.com/~tmercer/write/kristeva/kristeva.shtml

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