NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
French Novelist, Playwright & Memoirist
NYS Writers Institute, April 24, 2007
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Hélène Cixous: Written Initials - Ultimate Plays
An International Symposium, April 23-24, 2007
Hélène Cixous, Algeria-born French intellectual, novelist, playwright, memoirist, prose poet and feminist, is a major postmodern author and a leading figure in the fields of cultural and literary theory. Regarded as a pivotal figure by countless writers, poets, philosophers, dramatists, and women's studies scholars throughout the world, she is the author of more than 40 books and over 100 essays. In the United States, she is perhaps best known for works that analyze and take issue with traditional Western notions about masculine and feminine gender.
"the greatest writer in what I will call my language, the French language if you like." - Jacques Derrida
In 1994, Cixous was appointed to the prestigious Legion of Honor by President François Mitterand. In 1998, she was made Officer of the National Order of Merit by President Jacques Chirac.
Cixous was born to Jewish parents in Oran, Algeria, the daughter of a German mother and an Algerian father. She studied English literature in France, producing a widely acclaimed doctoral thesis on Irish author James Joyce (eventually translated into English as "The Exile of James Joyce" in 1972). In 1967, she co-founded the experimental University of Paris VIII, where she has served as professor of English literature since 1968, and where she founded Europe's first research institute on Women's Studies, Le Centre de Recherches en Etudes Feminines, as well as Europe's first doctoral studies program in that field.
Cixous received the Prix Medicis, one of France's highest literary honors, for her semi-autobiographical first novel, "Dedans" (1969), the story of a daughter's obsession with her dead father. In 1975, she received broad international acclaim for her essay, "The Laugh of the Medusa," in which she analyzes Sigmund Freud's attitudes toward male and female genitalia.
Cixous' major works of criticism include "The Newly Born Woman" (1975), "Coming to Writing" (1977), "Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing" (1991), and "Stigmata: Surviving Texts" (1998). She is also the author of numerous plays and works of fiction.
Recent publications in English translation include "Dream I Tell You" (2006), an anti-psychoanalytical dream diary; "The Day I Wasn't There" (2006), a semi-autobiographical account of the birth and death of the author's first child, a Down's syndrome baby; "Reveries of the Wild Woman" (2006), a post-colonial meditation on French, Algerian and Jewish identity; and "Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint" (2003), an analysis of the complex Jewish identity of the Franco-Algerian philosopher.
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Department of English
Department of Women's Studies
Department of Judaic Studies
The Athenaeum (RGSO)
GSO Multi-Cultural Affirmative Action Committee
GSO Programming Committee
Division for Research Conference Support Award
Office of Academic Affairs
College of Arts & Sciences
Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies
University Auxiliary Services
New York State Writers Institute
Center for Humanities and Technosciences
The Writing Center
Price Chopper of Guilderland
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620
or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.