An introduction to the work of three important French feminist theorists.
Sexual Subversions introduces the works of three well known, if not well-read, French feminists: Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Micele Le Doeuff. It provides a map of an area where there are few detailed discussion of the achievements of these difficult, yet immensely rewarding, writers.
In doing so, this overview raises issues of general relevance to feminist research: it participates in debates around the nature of feminist theory, the relations feminist intellectuals have to male dominated knowledges, and the strategies appropriate for developing non patriarchal, autonomous or woman-centred knowledges.
No book in French feminists would be complete without including the contributions of Kristeva and Irigaray. The inclusion of Le Deouff's work, which brings a different perspective to bear on the question of sexual difference, provides a counterbalance to literary appropriations of French feminism by Anglo-American readerships. Kristeva, Irigaray and Le Deouff are the focal points of this study, precisely because each highlights the differences of the others, revealing the frameworks to which the others are committed. Nevertheless, while these writers do not present a common political or theoretical position or form a school, each addresses the question of women's autonomy from male definition, affirms the sexual specificity of women, seeks out a femininity women can use to question the patriarchal norms and ideals of femininity and rejects the preordained positions patriarchy allots to women.
Elizabeth Grosz teaches philosophy at the University of Sydney and is the author of a forthcoming study of Jacques Lacan. Among the many works to which she has contributed are Feminist Challenges and Crossing Boundaries.
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin