Hélène Cixous: When the Word is a Stage, a special issue of the New Literary History, Winter 2006

New Literary History focuses on theory and interpretation-the reasons for literary change, the definitions of periods, and the evolution of styles, conventions, and genres. Throughout its history, NLH has always resisted short-lived trends and subsuming ideologies. By delving into the theoretical bases of practical criticism, the journal reexamines the relation between past works and present critical and theoretical needs.

Volume 37, Number 1, Winter 2006
Special Issue: Hélène Cixous: When the Word is a Stage

Cohen, Ralph, 1917- , Acknowledgments

Prenowitz, Eric, Introduction: Cracking the Book--Readings of Hélène Cixous

Armel, Aliette.
Derrida, Jacques.
Cixous, Hélène, 1937-
Thompson, Ashley, 1965-, tr.,  From the Word to Life: A Dialogue between Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous

Cixous, Hélène, 1937-
Kamuf, Peggy, 1947-, tr., The Flying Manuscript

Abstract: Hélène Cixous's "The Flying Manuscript" turns around the chance rediscovery of a handwritten draft of the text by Jacques Derrida that would eventually become "A Silkworm of One's Own" and be published with Cixous's own "Savoir" in the volume titled Veils in 1997. Written after the disappearance of Derrida in 2004, the text is a moving tribute to the friend whom the author continues to address in the ongoing present of their long and rich dialogue.

Kamuf, Peggy, 1947-, Afterburn: An Afterword to "The Flying Manuscript"

Abstract: "Afterburn: An Afterword to 'The Flying Manuscript'" reflects, in its aftermath, on the seering experience of translating Cixous's essay. Through a close reading of several passages in the text, it seeks to analyze some traits of the Cixousian writing practice as these can best be isolated by the impossible demands that this practice makes on translation.

Mamduh, Aliyah.
Cobham, Catherine, tr., Untitled

Milesi, Laurent, Portraits of H. C. as J. D. and Back

Abstract: The essay sets out to explore in three interrelated thematic scenes or tableaux, and in the light of the increasingly numerous textual crossings between them, how Derrida (J. D.) and Cixous (H. C.) write (self-)portraits of themselves as other in their fictional encounters, one of whose central restagings is the inaugural, asymmetrical first-time meeting "face to back" (H. C. seeing J. D. with his back turned, not seeing her). Working through convoluted threads of linguistic play in French involving seeing (or blindness) [voir], knowing [savoir], (not) having [avoir] and being, the Jew as foreign or other being [autre, être] "to the letter" [lettre], etc., this study analyzes how these textual portraits can be framed within, or read against, a broad philosophical tradition (Descartes, Hegel) linking them to withdrawal [retrait] of being and of themselves as impossible gifts for the other in substitution.

Michaud, Ginette.
Crevier Goulet, Sarah-Anaïs, tr., Derrida & Cixous: Between and Beyond, or "what to the letter has happened"

Dubreuil, Laurent, The Presences of Deconstruction

Abstract: This article focuses on literature's response to philosophy and provides a reading of Cixous's The Day I Wasn't There. If Cixous's novel evokes specters in its poetical composition and its writing, it is due to an analysis of a presence of absence largely indebted to Derrida's philosophy. However, there is more than that and more than the official difference Cixous and Derrida have acknowledged publicly. Cixous's difference is also able to differ from Derrida's difference itself. In Cixous, the exercise of a thought ruining dualism is not anchored in a hole of presence nor is the only resistance to the solidity of the concept. It prepares an affirmation of being without any restoration of positive plenitude, and, thus, exceeds Derrida's own philosophical exercise of deconstruction.

Segarra, Marta, Hélène Cixous's Other Animal: The Half-Sunken Dog

Abstract: Hélène Cixous has extensively written about cats, her real cats, and on the cat's figure as the privileged other of the subject. This article focuses on another animal, the dog called "Fips," a significant character in Les Rêveries de la femme sauvage, and in an earlier and shorter text, "Stigmata, or Job the Dog." It also takes into account "Mon chien à trois pattes" ("My Three-legged Dog," in Le Jour où je n'étais pas là), a text entwined with Clarice Lispector's "The Crime of the Mathematics Professor." These texts are the best examples of what Jacques Derrida called "la pensée de l'animal," a "poetical" and "prophetic" way not only to think about animality and humanity, but also to begin to consider the world differently.

Calle-Gruber, Mireille, 1945-
Crevier Goulet, Sarah-Anaïs, tr., Hélène Cixous's Imaginary Cities: Oran-Osnabrück-Manhattan--Places of Fascination, Places of Fiction

Abstract: Cities have a very special status in Hélène Cixous's writings. The writer was born in Oran, grew up in Algiers, studied both in Paris and New York, lived a few years near Montaigne, the city of the famous philosopher Michel de Montaigne, heard a lot about the city of Osnabrück in Germany through her mother who was born and spent her childhood there. Cixous's imagination is consequently filled with highly diverse geographical elements coming from the numerous cities she directly and indirectly knows, and for each of which she has a very specific attachment. This article focuses on three major cities in the writer's work and imagination: Oran, Osnabrück, and Manhattan— three places of fascination and of magical transmission. For a city is not simply, in Cixous's work, a given and localizable spot with precise characteristics (what is a "real place"), but is also a place about which to fantasize, a starting point for dreaming, for fiction, and for writing.

Prenowitz, Eric, Make Believe: Manhattan's Folittérature

Gibbons, Reginald, To Write with the Use of Cixous

Abstract: Cixous has written extensively about the act of writing. Far from being limited to theoretical formulations, Cixous's writing on writing is of a kind that is of great use in the practice of writing—especially her ideas about the play of language; the unconscious; how writing produces a sense of the self as other; writing as a departure and as death. It is also useful for an American writing in English to consider the contrast of English-language and French-language colorations of language play and trope. This essay is not an analysis of Cixous's Rootprints, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing, and a few of her essays, but rather a discussion of using them.

Hanrahan, Mairéad, Where Thinking Is Not What We Think

Abstract: This article offers a reading of Hélène Cixous's Jours de l'an (First Days of the Year), the first of many texts by Cixous to feature the problematic of an unwritten book which would be at the origin of all her other books. In particular, it examines the relationship between the text as a whole and its final chapter, "An Ideal Story," in the light of Heidegger's notion of thinking as digression, arguing that for Cixous the search for truth takes a necessarily oblique, indirect form. After consideration of the detours the text takes via Clarice Lispector and Marina Tsvetaeva, it contends that the story Cixous ends up telling runs counter to the one it set out to tell, simultaneously taking its place and reaffirming the need to tell it yet again.

Thompson, Ashley, 1965-, Terrible but Unfinished: Stories of History

Hilfrich, Carola, "The Self is a People": Autoethnographic Poetics in Hélène Cixous's Fictions?

Abstract: This article argues that Hélène Cixous's fictions develop a poetics of autoethnography. It argues further that this poetics explores undersides of the modern discourse of the sublime as well as limits of the authorial "I" that has been engendered by this discourse. Through a metafiction of "ghostwriting," on the one hand, and a fiction of the peopled "I," on the other, Cixous rearticulates justice and authority in ways that can reinform our understanding of these frames of reality.

Royle, Nicholas, 1957-, Portmanteau

Abstract: Noting that the reception of Cixous's work in an Anglophone context has, to date, been principally and in some respects misleadingly filtered through issues of feminist theory, this essay proposes the notion of the uncanny as an alternative way of exploring the significance and effects of her writings. Royle focuses on the relatively early "Fiction and Its Phantoms" (on Freud's "The Uncanny") and her essay on Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass in order to elucidate their crucial relationship with the writings of Jacques Derrida. Royle expounds a detailed reading of the figure of the portmanteau as a way of apprehending the remarkable complexity and strangeness, as well as the beauty and humor of Cixous's work.

Jeannet, Frédéric-Yves.
Cixous, Hélène, 1937-
Dutoit, Thomas, tr., The Book That You Will Not Write: An Interview with Hélène Cixous

Abstract: Interweaving threads such as the secret, an eleventh commandment (thou shalt not write . . .), the real and the true, stanching and mutilation, haunting and Orpheus, Frédéric-Yves Jeannet and Hélène Cixous turn in the orbit around that book that Cixous does not write and is not writing all the while visiting the many books—or satellites—which receive some of their energy and movement from this enigmatic and fabulous book, in such a way that the reader accompanies the questioner in this thorough journey while also hearing, as if by echo, how the respondent replies askance from that place not yet or never to be written.


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