Hélène Cixous

In her rich and prolific writing, feminist thinker Hélène Cixous elided the term “juifemme” (Jewoman) to articulate her complex experiences as “other” in society. The child of Jews fleeing Nazi Europe, Cixous came of age in Algeria with the dual identity of a French colonialist and an oppressed Jewish minority. Cixous moved to Paris in 1955, earning her English teaching credentials there in 1958 and beginning teaching at the Lycée of Arcachon the following year.  In 1962 she began teaching at the University of Bordeaux and began a lifelong friendship and philosophical dialogue with fellow Algerian Jew Jacques Derrida. In 1968, as founding chair of the English Department for the experimental University of Paris VIII, Cixous welcomed exiled Latin-American writers and groundbreaking philosophers including Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. That year, she also launched the journal Poétique and won the Prix Médicis for her second book, Dedans, following this with over seventy novels, poetry collections, plays, memoirs, and essays. In 1974 she created the first doctoral program in women’s studies in Europe at the University of Paris VIII, where she continues to teach. From 2008–2014 she also served as professor-at-large for Cornell University. 


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Photo of Hélène Cixous in 2011

Courtesy of Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons.

Date of Birth


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helene Cixous." (Viewed on April 20, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/cixous-h-l-ne>.


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