Kyle W. Casey

Julia Kristeva

Bulgarian born Julia Kristeva has enjoyed a sparkling academic career, first receiving a degree from the Literary Institute of Sofia, and then publishing two doctoral theses in Paris. Currently she is a tenured professor at the University of Paris and continues to publish. Her most recent work, Time and Sense: Proust and the Experience of Literature, was published in 1996. She studied under Tzvetan Todorov, Gerard Genette, Roland Barthe, and Jacques Lacan. Much of her critical work relates back to the work of Lacan, but that is not to say she follows him in every respect. Instead, she takes many of his ideas and assumptions and then alters and refines them through a feminist perspective. Much of her work concentrates on post-structuralist ideas, Marxism, psychoanalytic theory, and semiotics.

Her essay "Psychoanalysis and the Polis," stresses the importance of psychoanalytical interpretation and the danger of believing in objective truth, ultimate meaning, and imposing dogmatic theory to changing issue, whether they are political, psychological, or literary. She applauds and supports psychoanalytical interpretation for its ability to for a dialogue with the interpreted. In terms of literary interpretation, Kristeva applies a vast array of ideas and theories, including her own reworking of Lacan, and the ideas of Heidegger, Freud, Marx, and others. She's great, but a handful.

Roland Barthe made an excellent comment about her. It is as follows: "Julia Kristeva changes the order of things: she always destroys the latest preconception, the one we thought we could be comforted by, the one of which we could be proud: what she displaces is the already-said, that is to say, the insistence of the signified; what she subverts is the authority of monologic science and of filiation."

The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David H. Richter. Bedford Books: Boston, Ma, 1998.

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