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The subject of love

The subject of love: Hélène Cixous and the feminine divine

Sal Renshaw
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The subject of love
    Book Description:

    *The Subject of Love: Hélène Cixous and the Feminine Divine* is about abundant, generous, other-regarding love. In the history of Western ideas of love, such a configuration has been inseparable from our ideas about divinity and the sacred; often reserved only for God; and rarely thought of as a human achievement. This book is a substantial engagement with her philosophies of love, inviting the reader to reflect on the conditions of subjectivity that just might open us to something like a divine love of the other. Renshaw follows this thread in this genealogy of abundant love: the thread that connects the subject of love from 5th century B.C.E. Greece and Plato, to the 20th century protestant theology of agapic love of Anders Nygren, to the late 20th century poetico-philosophy of Hélène Cixous. This study will be of particular interest to academics and students of the history of gender, cultural studies, criticism and gender studies

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-339-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: In the spirit of the gift of love
    (pp. 1-21)

    To a considerable extent Western cultures now live with and through the knowledge that there is no ‘outside’ or ‘beyond’, no ontological site of absolute certainty, no absolute authority at all that can be the basis of an appeal to a permanent, or even a stable truth. In other words we live with, if not the knowledgeper se, then perhaps the effects of the ‘death of God’. Yet, for all that the institutions of religions have supposedly been revealed as being founded upon illusory ideologies, little more than the exercise of Nietzsche’s will-to-power, there is nonetheless an apparent revivification...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Speaking of love: philosophy, theology, and French feminism
    (pp. 22-55)

    Throughout history theorists and philosophers of love have been preoccupied with the relationship between the subjects and objects of love. From Plato’s reflections on the divinity of a disembodied love of wisdom to the Christian ideal of loving our enemies, there is a recurring concern with understanding the mediating aspects of love. How should we think of the kinds of exchanges that love brings about? Whether thinking about love concerns relations between human beings, or relations between humans and the divine, the very notion of love as developed in Western thought presupposes that something is loved, while someone else, as...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Feminist theology: for the love of God
    (pp. 56-94)

    As is already well evident even here, in discourses of love the overwhelming presence of the opinions, experiences, and reflections of men is uncontestable. If history is indeed a record of ‘winners’, as feminists have by no means been alone in suggesting, this insight should come as no surprise. The historical record of love is primarily the written trace of a masculine vision of love, and Plato’s Diotima stands as an effulgent exemplar of woman’s place in that record. Diotima is the absent presence of woman, spokenabout, but not actually speaking; spoken through, but unable to speak for herself....

  7. CHAPTER 3 Hélène Cixousʹ subject of love
    (pp. 95-132)

    In an interview in 1996 with Hélène Cixous, Kathleen O’Grady broke something of a critical silence regarding the subject of Cixous’ relationship to religion. To the question of her personal relation to God, Cixous describes herself as ‘religiously atheistic’ (O’Grady, 1996–97). The statements that frame this disclosure, however, provide a context in which to read just what it is that she is implicitly distancing herself from and, more importantly, what it might be within religious discourses with which in practice she aligns herself. In the preceding sentence she said of God something she has said many times throughout her...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Graceful subjectivities
    (pp. 133-162)

    The themes of giving and receiving that underpin so much of Cixous’ analysis of the difference that sexual difference makes in ‘Sorties’ are continued and developed in ‘Grace and Innocence’. However, it is the spirit in which she ended ‘Sorties’, with a disquisition on what we might think of as ‘divine love’, which provides the framework for her new inquiry in ‘Grace and Innocence’. Her earlier reflections on love opened onto a new way of thinking about divinity in the light of her developing understanding of a feminine economy of desire. What is at stake continues to be a reconfiguration...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Divine Promethean love
    (pp. 163-190)

    Through the engagement with the work of Heinrich von Kleist and Clarice Lispector, in the analysis of Cixous’ ‘Grace and Innocence’ in the previous chapter, we can see how she can be understood to be reorienting the epistemological concerns of the Biblical story of the Fall through which the text is framed. In so doing, she reframes the way we might think about the notions of both grace and innocence particularly as they bear on the issue of the relationship between subjectivity and knowledge. The Fall, as such, is no longer simply meaningful in the brute dichotomy of knowledge versus...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-194)

    Question of the time of mourning: I do not cry in advance – I do not precede – Feeling of grace stronger than everything with me – In the combat between joy and mourning. (Cixous in Cixous and Calle-Gruber, 1997: 98)

    With the jointly authored publication ofRootprints: Memory and Life WritingHélène Cixous and Mirielle Calle-Gruber have constructed a thoroughly postmodern textual engagement with the concept of writing the self. This apparently autobiographical text on/by Hélène Cixous gives concrete expression to her earlier statement in Promethea, that her ‘I’ is never the subject of autobiography. Rather, inasmuch as the...

    (pp. 195-201)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 202-214)