Biography (World Philosophers and Their Works)
Article abstract: Kristeva linked semiotics and literary criticism by treating literature as a psychological, historical, and political phenomenon. Her analyses employ concepts from both psychology and political philosophy.
Born in Bulgaria in 1941, Julia Kristeva received her early education from a French religious order and her college training at the University of Sofia. She arrived in Paris in 1966 to begin studies toward a doctoral degree; this step turned into a permanent emigration for her, and her professional life in effect began in Paris. In 1967, her articles began to appear in the leading intellectual journals, Critique, Langages, and Tel Quel. Owing to her close association with the latter, Kristeva tended to be grouped with the poststructuralist school of thought about language and culture. She had, however, a distinctive voice from the very first. Having been introduced to Western literature through the innovative Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin, she arrived prepared to make a unique contribution at the moment when Paris was most receptive to nontraditional, non-Western approaches to Western culture.
After defending her doctoral dissertation, Revolution in Poetic Language, Kristeva was appointed to a chair in linguistics at the University of Paris VII. She served on the editorial board of Tel Quel from 1970 to 1983. With a group from...
(The entire section is 1802 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Julia Kristeva (krihs-TEH-vah) is perhaps most accurately and conventionally described as a semiotician, that is, a student of signs and their meaning. However, in the course of a career that has repeatedly defied conventions, she has become one of the most diverse, controversial, and consistently innovative theorists engaged in the postmodern reconsideration of the origin, nature, and destiny of the human self. With a skillful and highly original blend of disciplines and methodologies, ranging from linguistics and psychoanalysis to Marxism, feminism, and literary criticism, Kristeva has produced works that trace the various interactions between language and the human psyche and explore the ways these interactions create and maintain the political, cultural, and religious structures of society.
Kristeva was born in 1941 into a middle-class Bulgarian family. She originally aspired to a scientific career, but because her parents lacked the political influence necessary for advanced technical study in the Soviet Union, she attended the Literary Institute of Sofia. She graduated in 1966 with a degree in linguistics and won a fellowship for doctoral study in Paris, where she worked with the famous linguist Emile Benveniste and the structuralist writer Roland Barthes. The literary critic Tzvetan Todorov, a fellow Bulgarian who had already established himself in the French capital, introduced her to the group of writers and intellectuals associated with the...
(The entire section is 756 words.)