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Litowitz, B.E. (2014). Introduction to Julia Kristeva. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(1):57-59.

(2014). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 62(1):57-59

Julia Kristeva: Maternal Reliance

Introduction to Julia Kristeva

Bonnie E. Litowitz

In 2011 Julia Kristeva presented a paper, “Reliance, ou l'erotisme maternel,” at the seventy-first Congres des Psychanalystes de Langue Française. In October 2013 she presented an English translation of that paper at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. That translation, which appears in this issue of JAPA, was prepared by Rachel Boué Widawsky, a former student (and later a colleague) of Kristeva at Université Denis Diderot (Paris VII), and Perry Zurn, a doctoral candidate in French philosophy at DePaul University.

As Anglo-American psychoanalysis has increasingly turned its attention to the study of the earliest developmental period—the one called “preoedipal”—our emphasis has been predominantly on the child's experience of the mother. But what of the mother's subjective experience of these momentous events—conceiving, carrying, giving birth to (separating from) and caring for her child? Kristeva's essay is an attempt to rescue the subjectivity of the mother as a subject for psychoanalytic inquiry by directing our attention to the mother's bodily responses to these most common experiences in a woman's life.

Kristeva's exploration of the mother's body is rooted in her grounding in Freud's writing but also incorporates her extensive reading of post-Freudian theorists—Melanie Klein, Jacques Lacan, André Green, Jean Laplanche, and others—with whom she has critically engaged in her own writing. She also brings to her exploration of maternal eroticism insights from her work across the many disciplines in which she is a scholar: linguistics, philosophy, literature, and religion. As a consequence, some aspects of her approach to her topic, including her conceptual vocabulary, may be unfamiliar to some JAPA readers. For example, terms such as the semiotic and ab-ject(ion) were coined by Kristeva in the course of earlier studies and now are brought to bear on this topic.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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