Julia Kristeva
Born 1941

Sliven, Bulgaria

Relevant Work Revolution in Poetic Language


(NATC, 2nd ed.)

Biography Edit

  • Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She is currently a professor at the University Paris Diderot.
  • Born: June 24, 1941 (age 75), Sliven, Bulgaria
  • Spouse: Philippe Sollers (m. 1967)
  • Education: Sofia University
  • Influenced by: Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, More
  • Movies: Contretemps
  • Children: David Sollers

Kristeva became influential in international critical analysis, cultural studies and feminism after publishing her first book, Semeiotikè, in 1969. Her sizeable body of work includes books and essays which address intertextuality, the semiotic, and abjection, in the fields of linguistics, literary theory and criticism, psychoanalysis, biography and autobiography, political and cultural analysis, art and art history. She is prominent in structuralist and poststructuralist thought. Kristeva is also the founder and head of the Simone de Beauvoir Prize committee.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( )

from Revolution in Poetic Language Edit

Background and Historical Context Edit

Key Words and Terms Edit

Chora: "A non-expressive totality formed by the drives and their stases in a motility that is as full of movement as it is regulated" (Kristeva 2072).

Cogitatio: Thinking (2076 footnote 7)


  1. With regard to psychoanalytic theory, regarding the initial phases of psycho-sexual growth, prior to the cultivation of the Oedipus complex in the phallic phase. In this stage, the mother is the sole love item of both genders and the father isn't yet acknowledged as a competitor for such or a love object.
  2. More typically, designating order or operations prior to the start of the Oedipus complex. "The pre-oedipal stage of development is crucial for kids, and a time in life when parents should be paying particular attention to tending to the emotional needs of a child." (definition of PREOEDIPAL Psychology Dictionary )

Symbolic/Semiotic (NATC 2068): Symbolic: The “…aspect of language that allows it to refer.” Semiotic: The “…aspect of language that bears trace of language user’s own body and of the mother’s protolinguistic presence-babbling…” (See complete contextual definition pg 2068).

Genotext - Language's underlying foundation. Though the genotext can be seen in language, it is not linguistic. It is a process that articulates structures that are ephemeral and nonsignifying. (Kristeva 2079) Phenotext - Language that serves to communicate. A structure that obeys rules of communication and presupposes a subject of enunciation and an addressee. (Kristeva 2079)

Primary Processes - "the most primitive of unconscious mechanisms, according to Sigmund Freud. . . 'Facilitation' and 'disposition' are the processes that shape the habit of desire" (2071-2072). Stases - a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.

Thetic phrase - "a break in the signifying process, establishing the identification of the subject and its objects of preconditions of propositionality" (2077).

Key Quotations Edit

“Discrete quantities of energy move through the body of the subject who is not yet constituted as such and, in the course of his development, they are arranged according to the various constraints imposed on this body--always already involved in a semiotic process--by family and social structures. In this way the drives, which are ‘energy’ charges as well as ‘physical’ marks, articulate what we call a chora: a non-expressive totality formed by the drives and their stases in a motility that is as full of movement as it is regulated” (NACT 2071-2072). "The chora is not yet a position that represents something for someone (i.e., it is not a sign); nor is it a position that represents someone for another position (i.e., it is not yet a signifier either); it is, however, generated in order to attain to this signifying position" (2072).

“The theory of the subject proposed by the theory of the unconscious will allow us to read in this rhythmic space, which has no thesis and no position, the process by which significance is constituted” (2073). "Though deprived of unity, identity, or deity, the chora is nevertheless subject to a regulating process [reglementation], which is different from that of symbolic law but nevertheless effectuates discontinuities by temporarily articulating them and then starting over, again and again" (2073).

"The chora is a modality of significance in which the linguistic sign is not yet articulated as the absence of an object and as the distinction between real and symbolic" (2073). This is to say that the semiotic chora is no more than the place where the subject is both generated and negated, the place where his unity succumbs before the process of charges and states that produce him" (2075).

“Although we recognize the vital role played by the processes of displacement and condensation in the organization of the semiotic, we must also add to these processes the relations (eventually representable as topological spaces) that connect the zones of the fragmented body to each other and also to ‘external’ ‘objects’ and ‘subjects,’ which are not yet constituted as such” (pg. 2075).

“Theory can ‘situate’ such processes and relations diachronically within the process of the constitution of the subject precisely because they function synchronically within the signifying process of the subject himself, i.e., the subject of cogitatio” (2076).

"Indifferent to language, enigmatic and feminine, this space underlying the written is rhythmic, unfettered, irreducible to its intelligible verbal translation; it is musical, anterior to judgment, but restrained by a single guarantee: syntax" (2076).

“We will be attempting to formulate the distinction between semiotic and symbolic within this perspective, which was introduced by Lacanian analysis, but also within the constraints of a practice--the text--which is only of secondary interest to psychoanalysis” (2077).

"phenotext ...serves to communicate, which linguistics describes in terms of 'competence' and 'performance'" (2079).

"Lacan has delineated four types of discourse in our society: that of the hysteric, the academic, the master, and the analyst. Within the perspective just set fourth, we shall posit a different classification, which, in certain respects, intersects these four Lacanian categories, and in others, adds to them. We shall distinguish between the following signifying practices: narrative, metalanguage, contemplation, and text-practice" (2080). "For it is in language that all signifying operations are realized (even when linguistic material is not used), and it is on the basis of language that a theoretical approach may attempt to perceive that operation" (2080).

Discussion Edit

Semiotics Edit

Kristeva's, Revolution in Poetic Language, while complementary to and inclusive of De Saussure and Lacan’s theories on signs and signification, posits the existence of the semiotic and its processes. For Kristeva the semiotic is related to the preverbal stage of human development and is tied closely to instinct. Unlike the symbolic, the semiotic is not concerned with meaning and structure but with the musical, the poetic, and the rhythmic. Kristeva elucidates this concept with the example of the musical and rhythmic features of infants’ preverbal babbling.

Semiotic language is associated with female language, which is "derived from the pre-Oedipal period of fusion between mother and child" (The Bedford Glossary, 173).

Major Criticism and Reception Edit

Kristeva prefers to be known as a "female intellectual" rather than as a feminist and her writing as well as the criticism it receives reflect this idea (NATC 2070). Some of her writing does focus on the ways that women are subjected in society and given identities only through the ways in which they serve men, however, Kristeva also views modern feminism as its own type of institutionalized religion. She believes that identity should be given more value than labels such as feminist or even female intellectual and, unlike traditional feminists, Kristeva is not interested in the opposing nature of men and women in regard to gender.

Related Works Edit

  • De Saussure, Ferdinand - Course in General Linguistics
  • Louis Althusser 1332
  • Harold Bloom 1648
  • Judith Butler 2536
  • Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari 1446
  • Sigmund Freud (NACT 807) (Beyond the Pleasure Principle)
  • Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar 1923
  • Judith Halberstam 2635
  • Jacques Lacan 1159
  • Franco Moretti
  • Laura Mulvey 2081
  • Slavoj Zizek 2402
  • Jacques Derrida - 1680
  • Roland Barthes - 1316
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - 2114
  • SAMAJ: Thinking the Difference: On Feminism and Postolony, (Feb. 18, 2014).
  • Tales of Love: European Perspectives, (Columbia University Press: 1987),

References Edit

Leitch, Vincent B., editor. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed., W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Julia Kristeva
Kriteva quote