Contents of spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/Lubbock.abstracts/ogrady

Will the Real Julia Kristeva Please Stand Up? by Kathleen O'Grady Trinity College, University of Cambridge or Julia Kristeva's impact on current feminist theory is significant, yet her relationship to feminism has always been marked by ambivalence. Kristeva has never taken the title of "feminist" herself, and her critics have continuously labelled her work as everything from anti-feminist propaganda to radical feminist theory, from a conservative alliance with traditional psychoanalytic theory to a revolutionary reassessment of the psychoanalytic project. Her most recent work continues to obscure rather than clarify her position to feminism. Footnotes provide some of the most fascinating examples of what an age of critics do not fully comprehend about the philosophy they claim to explicate. A footnote is often a deliberate method of marginalizing that aspect of a philosopher's work which cannot be comfortably assimilated into the schema of the commentator. In Kristeva's case, a glance at the footnotes by her feminist readers will demonstrate that many seem bewildered by her return to religious and theological concerns. While texts like "Women's Time" and About Chinese Women continue to generate discussion, commentators have quickly labelled Kristeva's texts on religion as "embarrassing", "pie-in-the-sky", "fantasy" and "troubling". In my paper I will argue that several major commentators on Kristeva have overlooked or pointedly ignored her writings on theological issues. Texts that focus specifically on theology and religion have been dismissed or cast aside by most feminist critics, and consigned only to the occasional footnote. In my paper I will demonstrate that much of the confusion concerning Kristeva's relationship to feminism and the all too common attacks of essentialism and sexism arise directly from the exclusion of Kristeva's theological writings from an examination of her other works. In my paper I indicate that by truncating the religious dimension of Kristeva's philosophy a reader risks misunderstanding the import and scope of her entire project. While critics from the fields of divinity, theology and religious studies have long included these writings in their discussions of Kristeva, they often employ Kristevan philosophy to buttress their own religious beliefs. In my paper I suggest that there has yet to be an exhaustive study of Kristeva's religious writings from a non-faith perspective, that is, an examination of the relation between Kristeva's semiotic, psychoanalytic and theological texts, not to augment an already established theology, but to understand more fully Kristeva's philosophical, ethical, and (clearly) feminist project. And, in addition, by delineating the grounds on which feminist critics have marginalize Kristeva's "theological" writings I also indicate some of the shortcomings implicit in much of contemporary feminist criticism itself.

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