Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought

Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought

Birgit Schippers
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought
    Book Description:

    Julia Kristeva is an important and influential figure within contemporary Continental thought. This book is an engaging appraisal of the complex relationship between Kristeva and feminist theory. Drawing in particular on her recent writings on revolt, female genius and freedom, Schippers makes a case for her significant contribution to a feminist project that is sympathetic to her account of fluid subjectivity, her critique of identity politics and the deeply ethical orientation of her work.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4606-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Few scholars can lay claim to being immortalised in a pop song;¹ that the Franco-Bulgarian literary theorist, semiotician and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva can garner such admiration is testimony to her wide appeal and indeed to her cult status. Such a tribute, moreover, in no way diminishes her enormous scholarly achievements, and it is therefore without irony that she can be included among that small group of people that she herself refers to, rather disparagingly, as the ‘Star Academy’ (2009a: 20). Kristeva is much in demand as a speaker, and she has received many prestigious awards, including the Holberg International Memorial...

  6. 1 Kristeva and Feminism: A Critical Encounter
    (pp. 21-54)

    This chapter provides an exposition of Kristeva’s key concepts and ideas, and sketches the diverse feminist responses to her work. Its aim is to map the fault-lines, both within feminism, and between Kristeva and feminism, that allow for an assessment of the turbulent relationship between Kristeva and feminism. As I already stated in the Introduction, such a task is complicated by feminism’s heterogeneity and plurality; after all, which feminist principles and ideas should be used as a benchmark to gauge Kristeva’s feminist credentials? It is further obfuscated by an ambiguity at the core of her conceptual apparatus and compounded by...

  7. 2 Crisis, Revolt, Intimacy
    (pp. 55-86)

    In the previous chapter, I alluded to the pivotal role of the idea of crisis in Kristeva’s early work. As I intimated there, Revolution in Poetic Language discusses how the crisis of modernity displaces political revolution on to a revolution in signification and into the field of aesthetics more generally. Her 1980s trilogy, which comprises her book on abjection, Powers of Horror (1982a), her book on love, Tales of Love (1987a), and her book on melancholia, Black Sun (1989a), delves further into the topic of crisis; however, instead of attending to the working-out of crisis at the wider social and...

  8. 3 Corporeal Ethics: Between Violence and Forgiveness
    (pp. 87-114)

    Kristeva’s focus on representation, including her writings on art, constitutes an important component in the feminist Kristeva reception that I alluded to previously. One would expect her works on ethics to have a similar impact, but it is somewhat puzzling to compare the prominence of her ethical thought in the Kristeva scholarship with the relative neglect in the wider field of feminist ethics. For example, two of her best-known and highly influential essays, ‘Stabat Mater’ (1977a) and ‘Women’s Time’ (1979), both of which articulate distinctive conceptions of the feminine and of the maternal, do not feature extensively in the field...

  9. 4 The Singularity of Genius
    (pp. 115-144)

    In the conclusion to her book on Kristeva, Sara Beardsworth (2004a) takes Kristeva’s 1980s trilogy to task for failing to explore how lives are made. This fault is said to originate in a gap between Kristeva’s emphasis on art on the one hand, and on therapy on the other. While both art and therapy are said to constitute distinctive responses to the crisis experienced by modern subjects, they fail to elucidate, Beardsworth suggests, how people make lives. This gap, according to Beardsworth, is filled with Kristeva’s genius trilogy,¹ whose linkage between life and narrative, and whose focus on the exemplarity...

  10. 5 Towards a Philosophy of Freedom?
    (pp. 145-174)

    The previous chapter identified the themes of singularity and plurality as key reference points of Kristeva’s political philosophy, which, as I suggested, is reaffirmed through her engagement with the ideas of Hannah Arendt, and which comes to inform her recent writings on politics. While Kristeva’s interpretation of Arendt’s thought displays an explicit consideration for the political, it withdraws, as I demonstrated, Arendt’s emphasis on ‘the world’ and on politics into the intimate. Even though, as I have suggested throughout Julia Kristeva and Feminist Thought, the idea of the political receives some considerable attention in Kristeva’s writings, this is mainly implicit,...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 175-192)
  12. Index
    (pp. 193-198)