CIXOUS, HÉLÈNE (1937– ), French writer, playwright, and theorist. Cixous was born in Oran, French Algeria. Her father was a Jewish doctor of French descent whose early death would leave a mark on her writing. Her mother was an Austro-German from a Sephardi family. Cixous was raised in Paris and lived through the persecutions of World War ii. She began her career as an academic in 1958, in Bordeaux, then at Paris universities (Sorbonne, Nanterre), and eventually took part in the creation of the new, experimental Paris viii-Vincennes, which was intended as an alternative to the traditional academic system in the wake of the May 1968 students movement. Cixous' work as a theorist is closely related to that of *Derrida, Tzvetan Todorov, and Gerard Genette (with whom she founded the avant-garde review Poesie, soon a forum for exploring new ways of writing and reading), with emphasis on the feminist dimension. Cixous founded in 1974 the Centre de Recherches en Etudes Féminines at Paris-viii, developed the concept of "ecriture feminine" (female writing), and was actively involved in Antoinette Fouque's Des Femmes publishing house, a feminist venture. But feminism was not the only liberation movement that was of interest to her: she was also active in Third World-related struggles, as well as struggles against legal injustice (Pierre Goldman affair), and she praised psychoanalysis as a tool of self-liberation. She also collaborated with avant-garde theater director Ariane Mnouchkine, founder of the Theatre du Soleil.
S. Sellers, Hélène Cixous: Authorship, Autobiography, and Love (1996); The Hélène Cixous Reader, ed. S. Sellers (1994).
[Dror Franck Sullaper (2nd ed.)]
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