Ecriture Feminine

Introduced by Helene Cixous in her essay, The Laugh of the Medusa, ecriture feminine refers to a uniquely feminine style of writing characterised by disruptions in the text, such as gaps, silences, puns, new images and so on. It is eccentric, incomprehensible and inconsistent, and the difficulty to  understand it is attributed to centuries of suppression of the female voice, which now speaks in a borrowed language. Believed to originate from the mother in the stage of the mother-child relation before the child acquires the male-centred verbal language, this pre-linguistic and unconscious potentiality manifests itself in those literary texts which, abolishing all repressions, undermine and subvert all significations, the logic and the closure of the phallocentric language, and opens into a joyous freeplay of meanings.ecriture-feminine2.jpg (640x483).jpgLuce Irigaray posits a “woman’s writing” which evades male monopoly and the risk of appropriation into the existing system. “Women’s writing” draws not upon the monolithic phallus, but upon the diversity, fluidity and multiple possibilities inherent in the structure and the functions of female sexual experiences. Julia Kristeva introduces the concept of chora, or pre-Iinguistic, pre-Oedipal, and unsystematised signifying process, centred on the mother, which she calls the “semiotic”, which is repressed on the acquisition of the father-controlled syntactically ordered, logical language, the “symbolic”. The semiotic language can break out in a revolutionary  way, as a “heterogeneous destructive causality” that disrupts and disperses the authoritarian subject and strikes free of the oppressive order and rationality of our standard discourse which, as a product of the law of the father, consigns women to a negative and marginal status. While masculine language represents the symbolic (it is linear, authoritative and realistic), ecriture feminine behaves like the semiotic, disrupts the symbolic and threatens to unleash chaos where there is order. Emily Dickinson‘s poetry is filled with strange images, breaks and pauses that display the use 0f ecriture feminine. Similarly, Kristeva locates ecriture feminine in the experimentative forms of avant-garde and Modernist writers.

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