Julia Kristeva Additional Biography

Biography

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 radical French journal Tel Quel. Among them was Philippe Sollers, the avant-garde novelist, who later became her husband. Encouraged by Todorov and Sollers, Kristeva began writing essays for Tel Quel. In 1973 she received her doctorat d’état and subsequently accepted a professorship in linguistics at the University of Paris.

In 1974 her dissertation...

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Bibliography

Fletcher, John, and Andrew Benjamin, eds. Abjection, Melancholia and Love: The Work of Julia Kristeva. London: Routledge, 1990. Stemming from a 1987 conference at the University of Warwick on the work of Julia Kristeva (which she also attended), this collection of ten explanatory and critical essays deals with a number of her seminal ideas such as the “abject,” the “semiotic chora,” “ primary narcissism,” and adolescence and perversion. The book includes Kristeva’s own article, “The Adolescent Novel.”

Grosz, Elizabeth. Sexual Subversion: Three French Feminists. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1989. This text contains an excellent introductory glossary with some basic terms of postmodern thought, as well as a lucid explanation of several components of Kristeva’s work including the semiotic. It provides a basic explanation of French feminism as well as additional writings on the work of Luce Irigaray and Michèle Le Doeuff.

Guberman, Ross Mitchell, ed. Julia Kristeva Interviews. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. This diverse collection of twenty-three interviews given by Kristeva covers her intellectual influences, views on socialism and feminism, concepts of avant-garde practice and psychoanalysis, and other issues.

Kim, C. W. Maggie, Susan M. St.Ville, and Susan M. Simonaitis, eds....

(The entire section is 471 words.)