Julia Kristeva, b. 1941
Presented by Alice Kelsey in English 510,
5 August 1996
(b. Bulgaria, 1941-):
psychoanalyst, linguist, semiotician, novelist, and rhetorician
- 1965 - emigrated to Paris for doctoral studies.
joined 'Tel Quel group' eventually marrying its head, Philippe Sollers.
- 1968 - involved in leftist French politics, publishing in Tel Quel.
- 1970 - part of Tel Quel's editorial board, attended Lacan seminars.
- 1973 - state doctorate in Paris, thesis published as Revolution in Poetic
- 1974 - University of Paris, chair of linguistics and visiting
appointments at Columbia University.
- 1979 - begin psychoanalytic career.
- 1990 - novel, Les Samourais, published.
- symbolic - the domain of position and judgment, chronologically follows
semiotic (post-Oedipal), is the establishment of a sign system, always
present, historical time (linear), and creates repressed writing.
- semiotic - the science of signs (that which creates the need for
symbolic),cyclical through time, pre-Oedipal, and creates unrepressed
writing. Exists in children before language acquisition and has
- semanalysis - word coined by Kristeva to differentiate her type of
linguistic analysis which is a dissolving of the sign through critical
analysis, avoids the text designing its own limits, and stresses the
heterogeneity of language rather than homogeneity of conventional linguistic
- intertextuality - also a term which originates in Kristeva's work,
used to designate the transposition of one or more systems of signs
on to another which is accompanied by a new enunciative and
- jouissance - total joy or ecstacy achieved through the working of the
implying the presence of meaning.
- (fear - mark of the failure of language to provide symbolization.)
- other - what exists as opposite of, or excluded by, something else.
- Other - a hypothetical space or place which is that of the pure
rather than a physical entity.
- chora - a Platonic term for a matrixlike space that is nourishing,
unnameable, and prior to the individual. Chora becomes the focus
of the semiotic as the 'pre-symbolic.'
Writing the body
- writings have gone from macrocosmic to microcosmic to fiction.
- never privledges either semiotic or symbolic, but strives for
- all are under the desire to return to period of preseparation.
- the body is outside the domain of sign and appears as trace writing.
- semiotic, pre-language self displayed through words outside symbolic
- is feminine (semiotic is feminine for Kristeva) but is available to the
"Women's Time" - Kristeva's brand of feminism
- distinct from language used for ordinary communication, an otherness of
- it embodies contradiction, life and death, being and non-being, good and
evil can exist simultaneously in a text.
- is the movement between: the real and the non-real.
- transcends the laws of logic presenting itself as the production of
"Thanks to the stamp of feminism, do we not sell many books whose naive
whining or commercialized romanticism would normally be scoffed at? . . .
However questionable the results of women's artistic productions may be, the
symptom has been made clear: women are writing. And we are eagerly awaiting
to find out what new material they will offer us."
Kristeva and Rhetoric
- first and second generation feminists and the resulting violence.
- Freud defended and defined.
- anti-motherhood attitude is alienating.
- childbirth creates child as symbolic phallus, so that motherhood can be a
normalizing and fulfilling experience.
- create child or literature.
- desexualization, 'I' as attacker and as victim.
- Return to religion, community for sake of singularity.
Primary Bibliography (translated material)
- analysis of the rhetoric in art and poetry.
- Semiotic discussions as possible link to pre-genre study.
Kristeva, Julia. About Chinese Women. Trans. Anita Barrow. New York:
Marion Boyars, 1977.
- - -. Black Sun: Depression and Melancholy. Trans. Leon Roudiez. New
York: Columbia UP, 1989.
- - -. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Ed.
Leon Roudiez. Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, Leon Roudiez. New York:
Columbia UP, 1980.
- - -. In the Beginning was Love: Psychoanalysis and Faith. Trans. Arthur
Goldhammer. New York: Columbia UP, 1987.
- - -. New Maladies of the Soul. Trans. Ross Guberman. New York: Columbia
- - -. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon Roudiez. New
York: Columbia UP, 1982.
- - -. Revolution in Poetic Language. Trans. Margaret Waller. New York:
Columbia UP, 1984.
- - -. Strangers to Ourselves. Trans. Leon Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP,
- - -. Tales of Love. Trans. Leon Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1987.
Moi, Toril, ed. The Kristeva Reader. New York: Columbia UP, 1986.
Caws, Mary Ann. "Tel Quel: Text and Revolution." Diacritics 3.1 (1973): 2-8.
Clark, Suzanne and Kathleen Hulley. "An Interview with Julia Kristeva:
Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis." Discourse: A Review of the
Liberal Arts, Vol. 13, No. 1, Fall-Winter, 1990-91, pp. 149-80.
Fletcher, John and Andrew Benjamin, eds. Abjection, Melancholia, and Love:
The Work of Julia Kristeva. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.
Lechte, John. Julia Kristeva. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.
Phillips, Adam. "What is there to Lose?" London Review of Books, Vol. 12,
No. 10, May 24, 1990, p. 6-8.
Steiner, Wendy. "The Bulldozer of Desire." The New York Times Book Review,
November 15, 1992, pp. 9, 11.