|Julia Kristeva (1941) |
Julia Kristeva, a professor and psychoanalyst, was raised in communist Bulgaria.
At the age of 25 she left for Paris with a doctoral research fellowship in hand.
By1967 her articles were already appearing in the most prestigious reviews,
Critique and Tel Quel. Her linguistic research led to the publication of two
books, du Le texte roman and Semeiotike, and ultimately to her doctoral thesis,
La Revolution du langage poetique, in 1974. Kristeva met and worked with the
most important figures of structuralism in Paris with her most important teacher
being Roland Barthes. She inspired her teachers right from the start because of
her unique intellectual background. Her Eastern European training with a solid
background in Marxist theory and fluent Russian enabled her to acquire
first-hand knowledge of the Russian Formalists and, more inportantly, societ
theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, whose work she was instrumental in introducing to the
Western world. With a Marxist, Formalist, and adaptive form of the Hegelian
concept of negativity context, she had the confidence to not only learn from
those she encountered in Paris but to utilize them and transform them for her
particular project to take up a critical position towards structuralism. A focal
point of her position is her process-oriented view of the sign. Her semiotic
theory "demonstrates precisely her radical attack on the rigid, scientistic
pretensions of a certain kind of structuralism, as well as on the subjectivist
and empiricist categories of the traditional humanism." Her communist Bulgarian
upbringing, unique intellectual surroundings in France, position as a foreigner
and a woman in a male-dominated environment gave shape and impetuous for her
work in semiotics. While not considered a feminist, Kristeva's main concerns are
with the politics of marginality and against all monologic discourse, with the
desire to produce a discourse which always confronts (and is thus in process all
the time), the impasse of language, and moves to think language against itself.
Julia Kristeva feels that instead of accepting consensual ideology and
moralizing, we need to adopt an "analytic, relentless position" that takes
negativity into account. She also challenges "writers" instead of intellectuals
to reinvent the political realm. Kristeva, unlike many others, practices her
theories. In her non-fiction and fiction she fractures language and conventions
and interacts with multiple texts.