Contemporary Feminist Criticism Criticism: Modern French Feminist Theory - Essay

Nicole Ward Jouve (essay date 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jouve, Nicole Ward. “Hélène Cixous across the Atlantic: The Medusa as Projection?” In Traveling Theory: France and the United States, edited by Ieme van der Poel and Sophie Bertho, pp. 99-113. Madison, N.J., and London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press and Associated University Presses, 1999.

[In the following essay, Jouve discusses Hélène Cixous's theories regarding feminine identity—particularly as expressed in the essay “The Laugh of the Medusa”—and notes how Cixous's critical writings have often been misread or misinterpreted in the United States and abroad.]

In the last thirty years or so, America got used to importing, or shooting, the...

(The entire section is 6092 words.)

Christine Delphy (essay date 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Delphy, Christine. “The Invention of French Feminism: An Essential Move.” Yale French Studies, no. 97 (2000): 166-97.

[In the following essay, Delphy presents an overview of “French Feminism,” positing that this term was coined by American feminists who felt the need to displace their own controversial ideas onto another school of criticism.]

“French Feminism” is a baffling topic for everybody, and it is no less so for feminists from France than for feminists from the United States or Britain. There are many aspects to this topic and first of all, of course: what is “French Feminism”?

“French Feminism” is not feminism in...

(The entire section is 13117 words.)

Ruth Robbins (essay date 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Robbins, Ruth. “‘Mirror, Mirror … ’: Luce Irigaray and Reflections of and on the Feminine.” In Transitions: Literary Feminisms, pp. 146-67. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Robbins discusses how Luce Irigaray constructs her concept of feminine identity in such works as Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One, noting how Irigaray's notion of feminism questions the psychological precepts of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.]

Luce Irigaray was born in 1930 in Belgium, though she is now a French national. As Margaret Whitford has noted, however, she strongly resists the tendency of criticism...

(The entire section is 8605 words.)

Susan Watkins (essay date 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Watkins, Susan. “Poststructuralist Feminism.” In Twentieth-Century Women Novelists: Feminist Theory into Practice, pp. 96-121. Houndmills, England: Palgrave, 2001.

[In the following essay, Watkins explores the critical writings of Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva—as well as Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando—and argues that these works function as poststructuralist critiques of assumptions about the relation of gender to culture.]


This chapter might easily have been called ‘French feminism’, because many early commentators have used this umbrella term when analysing the work of Hélène...

(The entire section is 11293 words.)