What are some features of Cixous's style? How are her arguments connected?
What are some of her basic complaints about attitudes toward women in (contemporary French) culture? How are these exclusions or repressions expressed?
Who can bring about change and how can they do this?
Cixous's essay was written in 1975 when she was a 38 year-old professor of English at the University of Paris-VIII; how may recent social movements or upheavals in academic practice have affected her views? How may she have been influenced by the fact that Lacan, Derrida and Deleuze were her colleagues? (need for writing to exceed authority and rules, collapse binaries)
In view of the fact that there were many great women writers in the nineteenth-century, what do you make of Cixous's claim that there were few nineteenth-century writers who truly wrote as women?
What relationship does she see between writing and sexuality? What metaphors/equations are made in stating that women express themselves physically?
What significance does she place on the difference between writing and speaking? Is this a view she shares with others, and if so, with whom?
Why must women write, and how do they write differently, according to Cixous?
What characteristics does she attribute to women and to their writings?
What will be the effect of reinserting women into history? (2046, will deprive men of their "conceptual orthopedics")
Why cannot one define a feminine practice of writing? (2046, 2049, women will wreck partitions, classes, codes)
According to Cixous, what features of language and "Western thought" have made the repression of women inevitable?
What alternate views of sexual difference does she criticize? (2047) Who had held these views? By contrast, what does she advocate? (2047)
What are some of her criticisms of the earlier psychoanalytic model of men and women? (2047-48; women inferior to the great Signifier; notion of superiority of phallus; belief in unity of sexual drive--she believes that in women these are heterogeneous; notion that women must compensate for a "lack"; need for a "complex" to explain sexuality; Freudian notion of birth, 2053, attack on Freud and Lacan, 2055)
Which aspects of the psychoanalytic model does Cixous accept? (she applies notion that men write from the body to women)
What offends her about the (allegedly) male notions of a heterosexual act?
Why does she use the image of the Medusa to represent the new woman? What are "her" special traits? (2048-49, her face is beautiful, prompts fear in men)
Which aspects of the original myth prompt a recuperative reading?
What does Cixous mean when she says, "Now I -- woman, am going to blow up the Law"? (2050)
What in her view makes a "feminine text" subversive? (2051)
Does the fact that Cixous spent much of her later life as a dramatist seem consistent with her ideals for writing?
What seem her opinions on the topic of women's sexuality, motherhood (2053, women give without a demand for exchange, 2051), generosity and love (2055)? How is love defined? (heterogenous desire; rejoices in the exchange that multiplies, 2056)
Cixious has been criticized as "essentialist"; is there evidence for this view?
Can one argue that her view of women is intended to be utopian rather than realistic?
The essay ends with Cixous's claim, "everything we will be calls us to the unflagging, intoxicating, unappeasable search for love. In one another we will never be lacking"; is this an appropriate end for the issues raised? (2056)
Can you find elements of humor in her style or tone?
Do Cixous's concerns and/or style compare with those of De Pizan, Wollstonecraft or Woolf? (rhapsodic, celebratory, envisions a better future; the preoccupation with sexuality and "the body" is a characteristic of radical feminism)
How does her approach differ/resemble from that of her near-contemporaries, the Americans Annette Kolodny, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar? That of African-American writers such as Henry Louis Gates or bell hooks?