Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The thesis examines the psychoanalytic myth of matricide in its relevance for a feminist understanding of literary history. The first half of the dissertation explores the problem of matricide in the terms offered by Kristeva's theory. My study emphasizes the larger context of Kristeva's work which is not confined to Freud and Lacan only; the effects of its cultural substratum involving such diverse traits as Byzantine iconograpy, East Orthodox dogma, and Bulgarian language and folklore; and the implications of its form as a "polylogue"--i.e. a transmutation of Bakhtin's polyphonic novel into a theory conscious of its fictional and semiotic dimensions.;In the second part of the thesis, the reading of Kristeva is transposed into a reading of Woolf. This transposition is carried out not simply as an intertextual procedure that throws light on both authors but chiefly as an approach to the problems of literary history, which Woolf poses in terms of the (absent) "tradition of the mothers." How can writing constitute itself out of an absent tradition? The thesis examines this absence in terms of a suspension of historical time, which Woolf addresses and for which Kristeva's typology of the speaking subject provides an explanatory mechanism. Kristeva's concept of matricide as a phantasmatic moment of the subject's formation is hence uncovered as a literary phenomenon that continues to surface in contemporary writing.;Although the thesis is divided between the monographic study of a theoretician and the intertextual study of a theoretician and a creative writer, the continuity of my method is ensured by my exploration of the reciprocal movement of the theoretician towards poiesis and of the artist towards theoria. This continuity, in its turn, is grounded in the continuity of my problematic which is invariably concerned with the production and the reception of the female voice. As a result of the study, the "quest for the mother" emerges both as a vantage point for the critique of different discourses (including certain types of feminist discourses) and as a moment in their refunctioning.



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