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Cixous, Héléne


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1937-) French feminist, writer, and critic. Cixous is the leading French feminist associated with écriture feminine , a D iscourse which originates in the pre-Oedipal drives of the body. Writing these “bodily” sensations serves to disrupt the symbolic (male) language/order. Her work draws on a variety of intellectual influences, P sychoanalysis , D econstruction , history, and criticism, but submits to none of them. Despite a wide range of published material, including her early work on James Joyce, in England and America, she is chiefly represented by three main essays: “Sorties,” “The Laugh of the Medusa,” and “Coming to Writing.” The account that follows is based primarily on these works. The disruptive potential of écriture feminine is predicated on the organization of C ulture and representation around the primary term of the male/ female opposition, “'the’ couple, man/woman” (1975, p. 64), where the female is figured as the negative underside to the male H egemony . This culture, Cixous argues, has resulted in the relegation of woman to the other, and the denial of her own access to the pleasure of her B ody , “Shut out of his system's space, she is the repressed that ensures the system's functioning” (1975, p. 67). This S ystem is one based on hierarchy and opposition, where the traditional equation of the male with activity, and the female with passivity, posits the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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