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Julia Kristeva

Since arriving in Paris in 1966 as a doctoral fellow, Bulgarian-born Julia Kristeva has become a dominant figure in contemporary critical theory, as well as one of the world's most respected and rigorous intellectuals.

Developing her thought by merging various disciplines -- philosophy, linguistics, semiotics, literary theory, psychoanalysis -- Kristeva has continually sought to formulate new modes of critical discourse in order to reflect logic and reality differently. Her principal objects for analysis are modern or modernist (especially avant-garde) literary texts.

These preoccupations were first revealed by her activities in conjunction with the Tel Quel group[?] (which also included Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Marcelin Pleynet[?] and Philippe Sollers[?]) which she joined in 1969. This period is represented by works such as Sèméiotikè: Recherches pour une sémanalyse (1969), Le Texte du roman: approche sémiologique d'une structure discursive transformationnelle (1970) and La Révolution du langage poétique: l'avant-garde à la fin du XIXè siècle (1974), a magisterial study of experiments in poetic language in the late French 19th century.

Throughout her career, it is non-Freudian psychoanalysis--the ultimate signifying discourse, in her view--which has exercised the determining influence on her theories. It is Kristeva's particular non-Freudian version of psychoanalysis that one sees propelling such works as Pouvoirs de l'horreur. Essai sur l'abjection (1980), on the topic of narcissism and abjection[?] in their psychoanalytic, philosophical and linguistic implications, Histoires d'amour (1982), a study of the "love-relation, love-object" and its expression in literary theory, Au commencement était l'amour (1985), on the relations between psychoanalysis and faith, and Soleil noir. Dépression et mélancolie (1987), where Kristeva probes melancholy and depression in their artistic manifestations.

Concerned with current issues of racism and xenophobia in France, Kristeva has also published the essay, Etrangers à nous-mêmes (1988), in which she examines the history of the foreigner and its intersection with nationalism and its attendant problems.

Recent publications include Contre la dépression nationale, Le féminin et le sacré, Proust: questions d'identité, and Visions capitales.

Having realized the abiding impact of psychoanalysis on her work, Julia Kristeva has established a practice in Paris in conjunction with her obligations as a member of the Faculty at the University of Paris VII.

For the last fifteen years, she has been a regular Visiting Professor at Columbia University, sharing the Chair of Literary Semiology with Umberto Eco and Tzvetan Todorov[?]. She is also Executive Secretary of the International Association of Semiology[?] and a member of many editorial boards. In April 1997, Julia Kristeva received one of France's highest honors "Chevalière de la légion d'honneur" for her work spanning thirty years and which has been translated into ten languages.

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