Luce Irigaray Criticism - Essay

Carolyn Burke (essay date summer 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Burke, Carolyn. “Irigaray through the Looking Glass.” Feminist Studies 7, no. 2 (summer 1981): 288-306.

[In the following essay, Burke discusses Irigaray's early works in the context of Lacanian and Derridean thought, examining how Irigaray's writing functions and whether it meets its own criteria.]

It is no longer possible to go looking for woman, or for woman's feminity or for female sexuality. At least, they can not be found by means of any familiar mode of thought or knowledge—even if it is impossible to stop looking for them.

Jacques Derrida, Spurs/Eperons

Luce Irigaray...

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Hélène Vivienne Wenzel (essay date autumn 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wenzel, Hélène Vivienne. “Introduction to Luce Irigaray's ‘And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other.’” Signs 7, no. 1 (autumn 1981): 56-9.

[In the following essay, Wenzel outlines Irigaray's feminist revision of psychoanalytic theories concerning the mother-daughter relationship in “And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other.”]

When I speak of the relationship to the mother, I want to say that, in our patriarchal culture, the daughter may absolutely not determine her relationship to her mother. Nor the woman her relationship to maternity, unless it is to reduce herself to it.1


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Christine Holmlund (essay date summer 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Holmlund, Christine. “The Lesbian, the Mother, the Heterosexual Lover: Irigaray's Recodings of Difference.” Feminist Studies 17, no. 2 (summer 1991): 283-308.

[In the following essay, Holmlund surveys Irigaray's oeuvre and its critical reception, identifying three central tropes that inform her criticism and the political/literary implications of these devices in the evolution of her thought.]

To North American feminists encountering Luce Irigaray for the first time, several of the themes underlying her wide-ranging theoretical and empirical investigations will seem familiar: (1) her overt, uncompromising challenge to male systems of thought; (2) her...

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Ofelia Schutte (essay date summer 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schutte, Ofelia. “Irigaray on the Problem of Subjectivity.1Hypatia 6, no. 2 (summer 1991): 64-76.

[In the following essay, Schutte analyzes the critique of female identity formation in Speculum of the Other Woman, examining Irigaray's claims of phallocentric biases in psychoanalysis.]

“My sex is removed, at least as the property of a subject, from the predicative mechanism that assures discursive coherence,” states Luce Irigaray in defense of her unconventional critique of the logic of identity and the subject undertaken in her study Speculum of the Other Woman.2 Her defiance of the “master discourse” of...

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Maggie Berg (essay date autumn 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Berg, Maggie. “Luce Irigaray's ‘Contradictions’: Poststructuralism and Feminism.” Signs 17, no. 1 (autumn 1991): 50-70.

[In the following essay, Berg proposes an ironic reading of “When Our Lips Speak Together,” situating Irigaray's “lips” metaphor as a counterpart to Lacan's “phallus” metaphor.]

The work of Luce Irigaray is regarded by many feminists as riven with contradictions: she is a poststructuralist and a Lacanian insofar as she believes that the subject is a discursive construct, making identity unstable; but, in order to rescue women from what she sees as the repressive effects of phallocentrism, she apparently proposes an...

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Margaret Whitford (essay date fall 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Whitford, Margaret. “Irigaray's Body Symbolic.” Hypatia 6, no. 3 (fall 1991): 97-110.

[In the following essay, Whitford deals with the symbolic implications of Irigaray's images of the female body in To Speak Is Never Neutral and This Sex Which Is Not One.]

There is a real, and probably at the moment irresolvable, tension in feminist thought between the need to create positive images of women, and the arguable impossibility of producing images which are not immediately recaptured, or recapturable, by the dominant imaginary and symbolic economy in which woman figures for-man. Roszika Parker points out that:


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James Robert Quick (essay date fall 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Quick, James Robert. “Pronom ‘She’: Luce Irigaray's Fluid Dynamics.” Philosophy Today 36, no. 3 (fall 1992): 199-209.

[In the following essay, Quick analyzes Irigaray's philosophical construction of female subjectivity, emphasizing the “fluidity” of femininity.]

The Department of Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris (Vincennes) demands Luce Irigaray's submission to a question: “What do you propose to do in your teaching?”1 Without confining the fluid discourse within which she stages her responses—for they are not one—this essay will chart the flow of Irigaray's articulation of a “Subject” with and...

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Lynda Haas (review date fall 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Haas, Lynda. “Of Waters and Women: The Philosophy of Luce Irigaray.” Hypatia 8, no. 4 (fall 1993): 150-59.

[In the following review, Haas examines Irigaray's thought in Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche and The Irigaray Reader, focusing on her contributions to philosophy.]

“Let [people] take what they will out of my books. I don't think that my work can be better understood because I've done this or that” (Irigaray 1991, 1). Even though feminist scholars from many perspectives have discussed her work, the writing of Luce Irigaray remains somewhat elusive. Of course, in English we lack the benefit of Irigaray's full career, since the...

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Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Hirsh, and Gary A. Olson (interview date May 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Irigaray, Luce, Elizabeth Hirsch, and Gary A. Olson. “‘Je—Luce Irigaray’: A Meeting with Luce Irigaray.” Hypatia 10, no. 2 (spring 1995): 93-114.

[In the following interview, originally conducted in May 1994, Irigaray discusses the specificity of her own practice as a writer, her relationship with psychoanalytic theory, and her relationship to traditional Western philosophy.]

The authors conducted this interview with Luce Irigaray in her home in Paris in May, 1994.


Trained in linguistics, literature, and psychoanalysis, Luce Irigaray nonetheless insists...

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Penelope Deutscher (essay date fall 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Deutscher, Penelope. “‘The Only Diabolical Thing about Women …’: Luce Irigaray on Divinity.” Hypatia 9, no. 4 (fall 1994): 88-111.

[In the following essay, Deutscher analyzes the cultural and philosophical significance of Irigaray's feminist reconceptualization of divinity in Sexes and Genealogies and An Ethics of Sexual Difference.]

The only diabolical thing about women is their lack of a God and the fact that, deprived of God, they are forced to comply with models that do not match them, that exile, double, mask them, cut them off from themselves and from one another, stripping away their ability to move forward into love,...

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Naomi Schor (essay date 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schor, Naomi. “This Essentialism Which Is Not One: Coming to Grips with Irigaray.” In Engaging with Irigaray: Feminist Philosophy and Modern European Thought, edited by Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford, pp. 57-78. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Schor considers contemporary critiques of essentialism, comparing the opposing thought of Simone de Beauvoir and Irigaray.]

As Jacques Derrida pointed out several years ago, in the institutional model of the university elaborated in Germany at the beginning of the nineteenth century no provision was made, no space allocated for the discipline of women's...

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Penelope Deutscher (review date spring 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Deutscher, Penelope. Review of I Love to You: Sketch for a Happiness within History, by Luce Irigaray. Hypatia 13, no. 2 (spring 1998): 170-74.

[In the following review, Deutscher contends that Irigaray's later work—including I Love to You: Sketch for a Happiness within History—is less sophisticated than her earlier efforts, which many critics preferred for its deconstructive rather than progressive perspectives.]

In her introduction to Engaging with Irigaray, Naomi Schor reminds readers of the well-known story of Irigaray and her critics, beginning with the large numbers who adopted positions resolutely pro and con based only on...

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Richard Dellamora (essay date winter 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dellamora, Richard. “Apocalyptic Irigaray.” Twentieth Century Literature 46, no. 4 (winter 2000): 492-512.

[In the following essay, Dellamora analyzes apocalyptic rhetoric in Irigaray, comparing her vision of gender relations with that of poststructuralists Emmanuel Lévinas and Michel Foucault.]

“The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden. It ends with Revelations” (94). These sentences comprise one of Oscar Wilde's best known epigrams. The first suggests that, in the book of nature and Western culture, life originates in the male-female dyad. The second suggests that the end of life is apocalyptic in one of two ways. Topically,...

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