Julia Kristeva

Julia KristevaJulia 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


Simone Bignall

Simone BignallSimone Bignall’s primary research interests fall within the field of political philosophy, often informed by her active participation in various communities of practice. Her academic work traverses Continental philosophy and critical political theory, colonial and postcolonial politics and culture, theories of embodiment and agency, feminism, psychoanalysis, and ethics.

While the projects Bignall has developed have been diverse in focus and range, her approach to various problems has been guided by my particular interest in the philosophical lineage from Spinoza to Deleuze, as well as the political philosophies of Foucault and Agamben. Her overriding aim has been to develop aspects and applications of this thought in order to define alternative ways of thinking about agency and the potential transformation of entrenched and habitual social practices. Through this work, she seeks to describe types of practice that encourage diverse peoples to live respectfully, responsibly and joyfully in community with one another.

Her recent publications include:

  • ‘Desire, Apathy and Activism’, Deleuze Studies, Special Issue 2010, pp. 6-21.This paper was published from the proceedings of the ‘Deleuze and Activism’ conference held in Cardiff, Wales, December 12-13 2009, where I was an invited speaker. The paper develops thinking about causation, complex affectivity and politics. It has already attracted international citation (Aitken and An 2011).
  • ‘Postcolonial Agency and Poststructuralist Thought: Deleuze and Foucault on Desire and Power’, Angelaki, General Issue, 2008, pp. 127-49.This article, published in an ERA ranked A* journal, has been cited in international scholarship (eg. Noyes, 2010; O’Byrne and Holmes 2011; Henderson 2010; Flores-Bradshaw 2009). My peers have offered spontaneous correspondence, acclaiming the new directions for research opened up by the argument presented here.’A Superior Empiricism: The Subject and Experimentation’, Pli (Warwick Journal of Philosophy), 18, 2007: pp. 201-217.This essay offers a novel interpretation of Deleuze’s philosophy of the subject, arguing that a concept of complexly embodied agency is evidenced in Deleuze’s work.

She earned her PhD in Philosophy from University of Sydney and her  Bachelor of Arts, Honours (First Class in Politics) from University of Adelaide.

Credits to Open University

Published: 19 March 2014

Last update: 23 April 2015