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CONTACT: Diane Manuel, News Service (650) 725-1945;

French playwright Hèléne Cixous to speak March 16, 17

French writer and playwright Hélène Cixous, the third guest lecturer in the Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia in the Humanities and Arts, will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, March 16, in the Moot Court Room of the Law School.

Cixous also will participate in a panel discussion on "The PasSage Through the University, or How I Started on My Request for 'je est un autre'" from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, in room 113 of Pigott Hall.

Both events are free and open to the public.

An internationally known feminist philosopher, theorist and playwright who is at the center of contemporary French thought, Cixous is the author of more than 50 volumes of literary criticism and theory, essays, novels, short fiction and plays. Many of her works have been translated into English, German, Italian and Japanese.

After participating in the Parisian demonstrations of 1968, Cixous helped to create the University of Paris VIII, where she headed an advisory council that developed interdisciplinary programs. She currently is a professor of English literature at Paris VIII, where she directs doctoral programs in English and at the Centre d'Études Féminines, which she founded.

Cixous' recent works for the theater increasingly have dealt with ethical and political questions in contemporary history, particularly the effects of colonialism, corruption and social injustice.

Exposed to a blend of cultures and languages during her childhood as a Jew in Algeria during the German occupation of France, Cixous has been deeply engaged by the work of writers in several languages, including Franz Kafka, Marina Tsvetayeva and Clarice Lispector. She has lectured frequently in the United States and in Canada. In 1963 she researched the work of poet Robinson Jeffers in California, and in 1990 she delivered the Wellek lectures at the University of California-Irvine. In June 1998, the international cultural center at Cerisy-la-Salle will hold a colloquium devoted entirely to her work.

According to one of her translators, "Translating the resonant poetics of Hèléne Cixous's work into anything but her particular language ­ which is not French, not German, but poetry ­ is a difficult (Promethean?) task in which the reader must participate for full effect."

Another critic observes that "the work of Hèléne Cixous, the original French, with its delight in word play and punning, the sheer playfulness of its language, and the poetic and highly metaphoric style that characterizes it, provides a richly fertile textual ground for exploration."


By Diane Manuel

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