elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Hélène Cixous (born June 5, 1937)

Hélène Cixous (born 5 June 1937) is a professor, French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, literary critic and rhetorician. She holds honorary degrees from Queen's University and the University of Alberta in Canada; University College Dublin in Ireland; the University of York and University College London in the UK; and Georgetown University, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. In 2008 she was appointed as A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University until June 2014.

Hélène Cixous was born in Oran, French Algeria, to a German Ashkenazi Jewish mother and French Pied-noir Sephardic Jewish father. She earned her agrégation in English in 1959 and her Doctorat ès lettres in 1968. Her main focus, at this time, was English literature and the works of James Joyce. In 1968, she published L'Exil de James Joyce ou l'Art du remplacement (The Exile of James Joyce, or the Art of Displacement) and the following year she published her first novel, Dedans (Inside), a semi-autobiographical work that won the Prix Médicis. She is a professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and the University of Paris VIII, whose center for women's studies, the first in Europe, she founded.

She has published widely, including twenty-three volumes of poems, six books of essays, five plays, and numerous influential articles. She published Voiles (Veils) with Jacques Derrida and her work is often considered deconstructive. In introducing her Wellek Lecture, subsequently published as Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing, Derrida referred to her as the greatest living writer in his language (French). Cixous wrote a book on Derrida titled Portrait de Jacques Derrida en jeune saint juif (Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint). Her reading of Derrida finds additional layers of meaning at a phonemic rather than strictly lexical level. In addition to Derrida and Joyce, she has written monographs on the work of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, on Maurice Blanchot, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, Michel de Montaigne, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, and the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva.

Along with Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, Cixous is considered one of the mothers of poststructuralist feminist theory. In the 1970s, Cixous began writing about the relationship between sexuality and language. Like other poststructuralist feminist theorists, Cixous believes that our sexuality is directly tied to how we communicate in society. In 1975, Cixous published her most influential article "Le rire de la méduse" ("The Laugh of the Medusa"), translated and released in English in 1976. She has published over 70 works; her fiction, dramatic writing and poetry, however, are not often read in English.

The Laugh of the Medusa, originally written in French as Le Rire de la Méduse in 1975, was translated into English by Keith and Paula Cohen in 1976. Cixous is issuing her female readers an ultimatum of sorts: either they can read it and choose to stay trapped in their own bodies by a language that does not allow them to express themselves, or they can use their bodies as a way to communicate.

Dense with literary allusions, "The Laugh of the Medusa" is an exhortation to a "feminine mode" of writing; the phrases "white ink" and "écriture féminine" are often cited, referring to this desired new way of writing. It is a strident critique of logocentrism and phallogocentrism, having much in common with Jacques Derrida's earlier thought. The essay also calls for an acknowledgment of universal bisexuality or polymorphous perversity, a precursor of queer theory's later emphases, and swiftly rejects many kinds of essentialism which were still common in Anglo-American feminism at the time. The essay also exemplifies Cixous's style of writing in that it is richly intertextual, making a wide range of literary allusions. In homage to French theorists of the feminine, Laughing with Medusa was published by Oxford University Press in 2006.

One critic has suggested that Cixous's arguments in "The Laugh of the Medusa," rather than liberating women, give ammunition to traditional sexist arguments that women are incapable of rational thought.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A9l%C3%A8ne_Cixous

Further Readings:

"Coming to Writing" and Other Essays by Helene Cixous
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 1, 1992)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0674144376
ISBN-13: 978-0674144378
Amazon: "Coming to Writing" and Other Essays

A collection of six essays, translated from the French, in which Cixous explores how the problematics of the sexes - viewed as a paradigm for all difference, the organizing principle behind identity and meaning - manifest and write themselves in texts.

French Feminism Reader by Kelly Oliver
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 26, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0847697673
ISBN-13: 978-0847697670
Amazon: French Feminism Reader

French Feminism Reader is a collection of essays representing the authors and issues from French theory most influential in the American context. The book is designed for use in courses, and it includes illuminating introductions to the work of each author. These introductions include biographical information, influences and intellectual context, major themes in the author's work as a whole, and specific introductions to the selections in this volume.
The contributors represent the two trends in French theory that have proven most useful to American feminists: social theory and psychoanalytic theory. Both of these trends move away from any traditional discussions of nature toward discussions of socially constructed notions of sex, sexuality and gender roles. While feminists interested in social theory focus on the ways in which social institutions shape these notions, feminists interested in psychoanalytic theory focus on cultural representations of sex, sexuality and gender roles, and the ways that they affect the psyche.
This collection includes selections by Simone de Beauvoir, Christine Delphy, Colette Guilluamin, Monique Wittig, Michele Le Doeuff, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Helene Cixous.

This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/1527010.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: author: helene cixous, gay classics, literary heritage, persistent voices
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 0 comments