Hélène Cixous : biography
Hélène Cixous ( born 5 June 1937) is a professor, French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, literary critic and rhetorician. Faculty Profile at European Graduate School with biography and bibliography. (Retrieved 15 May 2010)http://www.britannica.com/women/article-9104185 She holds honorary degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Alberta in Canada; University College Dublin in Ireland; the University of York and University College London in the UK; and Georgetown University, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. In 2008 she was appointed as A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University until June 2014.
Life and career
Cixous was born in Oran, French Algeria, to a German Ashkenazi Jewish mother, Eve (née Klein), and a Pied-Noir Sephardic Jewish father, Georges Cixous.http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/cixous-helene She earned her agrégation in English in 1959 and her Doctorat ès lettres in 1968. Her main focus, at this time, was English literature and the works of James Joyce. In 1968, she published L’Exil de James Joyce ou l’Art du remplacement (The Exile of James Joyce, or the Art of Displacement) and the following year she published her first novel, Dedans (Inside), a semi-autobiographical work that won the Prix Médicis. She is a professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and the University of Paris VIII, whose center for women’s studies, the first in Europe, she founded.
She has published widely, including twenty-three volumes of poems, six books of essays, five plays, and numerous influential articles. She published Voiles (Veils) with Jacques Derrida and her work is often considered deconstructive. In introducing her Wellek Lecture, subsequently published as Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing, Derrida referred to her as the greatest living writer in his language (French). Cixous wrote a book on Derrida titled Portrait de Jacques Derrida en jeune saint juif (Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint). Her reading of Derrida finds additional layers of meaning at a phonemic rather than strictly lexical level.Not the same as puns, which play on the varied means of a word or phrase or the homonyms thereof. In addition to Derrida and Joyce, she has written monographs on the work of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, on Maurice Blanchot, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, Michel de Montaigne, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, and the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva.
Along with Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, Cixous is considered one of the mothers of poststructuralist feminist theory. In the 1970s, Cixous began writing about the relationship between sexuality and language. Like other poststructuralist feminist theorists, Cixous believes that our sexuality is directly tied to how we communicate in society. In 1975, Cixous published her most influential article "Le rire de la méduse" ("[https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:2ejPblYQ8IcJ:www.dwrl.utexas.edu/~davis/crs/e321/Cixous-Laugh.pdf+%22laugh+of+the+medusa%22&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESj4eAASbB4kJn89mWZNdze7a5GTBQtSAVzgJenWQKFPFOQr2XC0mxOSmiboiNN928ynkRGZNGf_85hzF4o8YDEtBzkMmTXZo7Xusj6WBzzszBF8Ufwe4g4JJF0PsXPkii9Oa10l&sig=AHIEtbTu7rPsB-ocVIXGsrIiVQBUTmKACQ The Laugh of the Medusa]"), translated and released in English in 1976. She has published over 70 works; her fiction, dramatic writing and poetry, however, are not often read in English.
The Laugh of the Medusa (1975)
This text, originally written in French as Le Rire de la Méduse in 1975, was translated into English by Keith and Paula Cohen in 1976.Hélène Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa," trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen, Signs 1, no. 4 (1976): 875-93 Cixous is issuing her female readers an ultimatum of sorts: either they can read it and choose to stay trapped in their own bodies by a language that does not allow them to express themselves, or they can use their bodies as a way to communicate.