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Julia Kristeva

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Kelly Haus

on 13 September 2012

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Transcript of Julia Kristeva

"Women's Time" Julia Kristeva Bulgarian-French philosopher,
literary critic, psychoanalyst,
sociologist, feminist,
and novelist Julia Kristeva In "Women's Time" Kristeva discusses three different generations of feminism and how they relate to time. Kristeva rejects all but the final wave of feminism, which she claims will be less of a feminist movement and more of a humanistic movement. Abstract: Linear Time- This is time that passes. History and language follow linear time.

Monumental Time- Eternity. The endless chain of genetics and myths of resurrection are examples of monumental time.

Clinical Time/Natural Time- This involves repetition, cycles, gestation, and the biological clock.

The Symbolic Contract- The internalized explicit understanding within every person of the different binaries by which society implicitly functions. These differences are in relation to power, language, and meaning. Key Terms
Kristeva's Thesis:

"The reader will find in the following pages, first, an attempt to situate the problematic of women in Europe within an inquiry on time: that time which the feminist movement both inherits and modifies. Second, I will attempt to distinguish two phases or two generations of women which, while immediately universalist and cosmopolitan in their demands, can nonetheless be differentiated by the fact that the first generation is more determined by the implications of national problematic...while the second, more determined by its place within the "symbolic denominator," is European and trans-European. Finally, I will try, both through the problems approached and through the type of analysis I propose, to present which I consider a viable stance for a European - or at least a European woman- within a domain which is henceforth worldwide in scope. " Intro published in 1979 Found on page 1563 in TCT Kristeva will discuss how women in Europe/ the feminist movement fits into time. She will also discuss the first two phases of the feminist movement. The first generation was more concerned with how women fit into the "national problematic" and wanted to be equal to men. The second generation, however, focused on how women fit into the "symbolic denominator," examining women's relationship with power, language, and meaning. Finally, she will propose a third generation which retreats from sexism and instead will focus on individual identity, rather than the identity of a sex as a whole. In other words... Woman is generally not attributed to time, but rather to space.

As for time, female subjectivity is especially linked to two types of time: clinical time (cycles, gestation, biological rhythm) and monumental (myths of resurrection). These two types of time "are found to be the fundamental, if not sole conceptions of the time in numerous civilizations and experiences." These modalities are set off against the time of linear history, where early feminists sought to gain a place. Which Time? By "generation" Kristeva means a succession or progression of the feminist movement.

The first generation of feminists wanted to become identical to men by getting what men already had. This includes equal pay for equal work, equal footing in positions of power, etc. These women rejected what it meant to be feminine or maternal in order to assimilate into the dominant.

The second generation of feminists wanted recognition of its own female identity. These women were "essentially interested in the specificity of female psychology and female relations."

These two movements combined set the foundation for the modern European feminist movement and a new generation of women. Two Generations Having achieved economic, political, and professional equality, the new generation of women is fighting for a 4th equality: sexual equality. This includes homo relations, abortion, contraception, etc.

This generation of feminists is no longer concerned with equality, but is now looking for difference and specificity.

Here, the new generation encounters the symbolic contract. Sexual difference is defined by the symbolic differences in power, language, and meaning, not just by biology. This examination of the symbolic leads Kristeva to her discussion of Freud. Socialism + Fruedianism Here Kristeva discusses Frued and the gendered nature of language. Language and the symbolic medium through which women must define and locate themselves is problematically gendered. Language doesn't just express the differences in sex and power, but it also perpetuates it. So, although women are defined in terms of the dominant, Kristeva states that women should "go further and call into question the very apparatus itself." Castrated And/Or Subject to Language In her discussion of the Frued and the symbolic, Kristeva gives a deconstruction of the castration fantasy as it relates to female subjectivity. She states:

"The reality of castration is no more real than the hypothesis of an explosion which, according to modern astrophysics, is at the origin of the universe: Nothing proves it, in a sense it is an article of faith, the only difference being that numerous phenomena of life in this "big-bang" universe are explicable only through this initial hypothesis. Kristeva's deconstruction of Frued The symbolic social contract is based on "an essentially sacrificial relationship of separation and articulation of differences."

So, what is women's place in the symbolic social contract?

Transforming the symbolic contract is becoming the essence of the new feminist ideology and the attempt is to "break the code, shatter the language, to find a discourse closer to the body of emotions, to the unnameable repressed by the social contract." This leads to a revolt against this repression. Living the Sacrifice Kristeva begins this section by posing two questions: What happens when women come into power and identify with it? and What happens when, on the contrary, they refuse power and create a parallel society, a counterpower which then takes on aspects ranging from a club of ideas to a group of terrorist commandos?

Women in power can seem threatening to some, but the rise of women in power will eventually become the norm, and thus far the inclusion of women in power has yet to change the way power operates. Women in power just assume the role of the dominant and keep the status quo, rather than radically changing anything.

However, when women are in power, the powerful woman is not praised as an individual, but rather the system that allowed her power is commended.

There are radical feminists that refuse to agree with any existing forms of power. These women have created females as a counter society, or a "female society." Kristeva here asks a crucial question: "Does not feminism become a kind of inverted sexism when this logic is followed to its conclusion?" The Terror of the Power or the Power of Terror Kristeva's theory of female terrorists is really interesting. She says that women join terrorist movements because they feel repressed and need an outlet, in a sense. She points out how backwards it is that these women join an even more repressive group. These groups then attack the democratic and liberal systems which generate tolerance and grant equality.

Kristeva states that modern femininity "has only been but a moment in the interminable process of coming to a consciousness about the implacable violence (separation, castration, etc.) which constitutes any symbolic contract."

The only way to defuse this violence is to challenge the myth of the archaic mother. This "archaic mother" is itself a central fantasy of patriarchy. Thus when women adopt this myth, it fails because the archaic mother represents in our culture not only a gratification and pleasure, but a power against which we are helpless, and against which we must struggle to defend ourselves. The Terror of Power or the Power of Terror- continued Creatures and Creatresses As previously stated, many early feminists rejected their desires to become mothers in order to better align with the dominant. However, modern feminists have not adopted the notion. Kristeva states "that the refusal of maternity cannot be a mass policy and that the majority of women today see the possibility for fulfillment, if not entirely at least to a large degree, in bringing a child into the world." She also states that pregnancy "seems to be experienced as the radical ordeal in the splintering of the subject" leading to "narcissistic completeness." In short, rejection of motherhood is a rejection of the particularities of women in their singularities. In this section, Kristeva states that the feminist movement is "situated within the very framework of the religious crisis of our civilization." Much like religion, the feminist movement is a representation of the individual and heavily rooted in symbolization. Kristeva ponders if feminism is in the process of becoming a religion. She hopes however, that feminism will be able to break free from its many symbols and "bring out the singularity of each woman, and beyond this, her multiplicities, her plural languages, beyond the horizon, beyond sight, beyond faith itself." In the Name of the Father, The Son...and The Woman? Finally, Kristeva states that arising from the first and second generations of feminists, there will be "an attitude of retreat from sexism (male as well as female) and gradually, from any kind of anthropomorphism." The goal here will be to separate from the sociosymbolic contract and get into the "very interior of every identity whether subjective, sexual, ideological...along with the multiplicity of every person's possible identification."

Feminism, Kristeva claims, will be "but a moment in the thought of that anthropomorphic identity which currently blocks the horizon of the discursive and scientific adventure of our species." Another Generation is Another Space Foucault claimed that the discourse that surrounds sexuality is what takes it beyond biological. Kristeva said the same thing when discussing the symbolic contract. These symbols and the discourse surrounding them, are what takes the male/female differences and creates struggles over power and language. Obviously, sexuality is a social problem (what all waves of feminists were fighting for), a psychological problem (women's struggle with her place within the social contract), a political problem (equal pay, equal footings in positions of power), and a legal problem (abortion rights, rights to contraception, gay marriage).

Bordeau claimed that culture is a field of struggle over symbolic goods. These symbolic goods as it relates to Kristeva and Bordeau include position, domination, status, and distinction. Men hold the symbolic domination and retain the symbolic capital. Relations to Other Texts Discussion Questions The first generation of feminists wanted equality to men. Kristeva rejects this generation because they ignore what it means to be women (like having babies).

The second generation of feminists wanted to stand out as women and examine women's psychology and language.

Language is gendered as are the symbols with which women have to define themselves.

These symbols are what make up feminism. Kristeva fears that the symbols will take over and feminism will become a religion rather than moving beyond the symbols to examine the uniqueness of each woman.

Feminism will eventually become a moment in mental space and will look at the relativity of the symbolic (amongst men and women) as well as the biological existence. Review:
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