Obiya Jolly_Helene Cixous and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’

Klages, Mary. “Helene Cixous and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa'” Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2006. 98-106. Print.

Helene Cixous and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’

This excerpt from Mary Klages’ book discusses the theoretical framework which will be employed in the proposed research; L’ecriture feminine. The text, “Helen Cixous and ‘The Laugh of Medusa’, offers a comprehensive understanding of the framework L’ecriture feminine by French feminist theorist Helene Cixous. This text would be instrumental in explaining the theoretical framework employed in the research paper, though it does not contribute to the review of existing research. Rather, this would be considered as contributive to the theoretical understanding. However, certain instances from the text could be employed in the analysis of the poems selected.

Cixous’ project has two aims, “She wants to destroy (or perhaps deconstruct) the phallogocentric system Lacan describes, and to project some new strategies for a new kind of relation between female bodies and language” (99). As Klages describes, Cixous’ project is about how the phallogocentric notion of language is challenged and how a language that accommodates women is formed. L’ecriture feminine is considered as the counterpart of phallogocentric masculine writing. She makes another major point that directly relates to this research; l’ecriture feminine is possible only in poetry. Klages paraphrases Cixous’ words, “ In poetry, however, language is set free-the chains of signifiers flow more freely, and meaning is less determinate” (102).  Another major point that she makes is that L’ecriture feminine cannot be encoded within strict definitions. Its nature is fluid, but it “can be ‘conceived of’ -…- by subjects not subjugated to a central authority” (104). Hence, L’ecriture feminine is about subjects, male or female, who are independent of the central anchoring authority.

Towards the research, this theoretical reading is helpful to understand the methodology for the research. Earlier, my impression was that L’ecriture feminine can be easily defined as women writing about/with their bodies. However, this excerpt gives me more clarity about the concept.



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