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Title: Reading Julia Kristeva's novels : revisiting French feminist theory
Author: Chen, Szu-chin Hestia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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Internationally known as a practising psychoanalyst, literary theoretician and critic, the French feminist Julia Kristeva has recently shifted her interest from theory to the novel, albeit that the boundary between theory and novel is indeterminate for her. This research is a study of her novels to date, Les Samouraïs, Le vieil homme et les loups, and Possessions, and the way in which they embody her theoretical works in the context of the relationship between French feminist theory and post-colonial (feminist) theory, as well as between French feminist theory and Anglo-American feminism. It is divided into two parts and six chapters. Part one examines the implications of how Kristeva’s problematic status as a French feminist can be situated in relation to post-colonial (feminist) theorists and critics. The starting point for this part is the feminist post-colonial theorist and critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s critique of Kristeva’s Des Chinoises, of which narcissism is the theme. A comparison is made, in the first chapter, between Spivak’s argument that Kristeva is a privileged informant in representing Chinese women in Des Chinoises and Kristeva’s fictional portrayal of her characters as a reincarnation of narcissus, which serves as the basis of my exploration into Kristeva’s theory of love. This is followed by a study of the correlation between Kristeva’s theory of melancholia and her fictional representation of it in the second chapter. The focus on the relationship between the work of Kristeva and that of the post-colonial critic David Punter at the end of the second chapter also continues to be the object of analysis in the third chapter. This aspect of the relationship between French feminist theory and post-colonial theory paves the way for my reading of Kristeva’s theory of the abject and abjection, an interpretation which brings part one to a conclusion. Part two starts with an introduction to Kristeva’s relationship with the other two French feminist theorists Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray, whose work and Kristeva’s become representative of French feminism. This understanding of French feminist theory among the Anglophone feminist reading public obscures the theoretical positions of feminist thought in France. The objective of this part is to destabilise the underlying assumption that French feminist theory is apolitical and Anglo-American feminism is political.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available