Écriture féminine, literally "gendered women's writing," is a strain of feminist literary theory that originated in France in the 1970s.
Hélène Cixous first uses this term in her essay, "The Laugh of the Medusa" (1975), in which she asserts, "Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies." Elaine Showalter defines it as "the inscription of the feminine body and female difference in language and text" Écriture féminine places experience before language, and privileges non-linear, cyclical writing that evades "the discourse that regulates the phallocentric system." For Cixous, écriture féminine is not only a possibility for female writers; rather, she believes it can be (and has been) employed by male authors such as James Joyce.
Écriture féminine was especially well developed by French and other European feminists. It is now widely recognized by Anglophone scholars as a sub-category of feminist literary theory. Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig, Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, were foundational theorists of the movement, and Bracha Ettinger's art notebooks' writing and psychoanalytical theory joined this field in the early 1990s. The "Laughing with Medusa" book (2006) analyses the work of Julia Kristeva, Bracha Ettinger, Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous. Collectively these writers are sometimes referred to by Anglophones as "the French feminists," though Mary Klages has pointed out that "poststructuralist theoretical feminists" would be a more accurate term. Madeleine Gagnon is a more recent proponent.
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