Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst and a Professor at University Paris Diderot. Kristeva taught at Columbia University in the early 1970s, and remains a Visiting Professor. She has also published under the married name Julia Joyaux. Her alma mater is University of Sofia.
Kristeva argues that anthropology and psychology, or the connection between the social and the subject, do not represent each other, but rather follow the same logic: the survival of the group and the subject. Furthermore, in her analysis of Oedipus, she claims that the speaking subject cannot exist on his/her own, but that he/she “stands on the fragile threshold as if stranded on account of an impossible demarcation”.
In her comparison between the two disciplines, Kristeva claims that the way in which an individual excludes the abject mother as a means of forming an identity, is the same way in which societies are constructed. On a broader scale, cultures exclude the maternal and the feminine, and by this come into being. Kristeva is also noted for her work on the concept of intertextuality, the shaping of a text’s meaning by another text.
In the past decade, Kristeva has written a number of novels that resemble detective stories. While the books maintain narrative suspense and develop a stylised surface, her readers also encounter ideas intrinsic to her theoretical projects. Her characters reveal themselves mainly through psychological devices, making her type of fiction mostly resemble the later work of Dostoevsky. Her fictional oeuvre, which includes The Old Man and the Wolves, Murder in Byzantium, and Possessions, while often allegorical, also approaches the autobiographical in some passages, especially with one of the protagonists of Possessions, Stephanie Delacour—a French journalist—who can be seen as Kristeva’s alter ego. Murder in Byzantium deals with themes from orthodox Christianity and politics and has been described by Kristeva as “a kind of anti-Da Vinci Code.“
Her selected works include:
- Kristeva, J. (2013). Melanie Klein (Vol. 2). Columbia University Press.
- Kristeva, J. (2013). Hatred and forgiveness. Columbia University Press.
- Kristeva, J. (2011). This incredible need to believe. Columbia University Press.
Published: 10 November 2014
Last update: 04 April 2015