The Laugh of the Medusa  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hélène Cixous first uses the term écriture féminine in her essay, "The Laugh of the Medusa" (1975), in which she asserts, "Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies." Elaine Showalter defines it as "the inscription of the feminine body and female difference in language and text" (Showalter, Elaine. "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness.") Écriture féminine places experience before language, and privileges non-linear, cyclical writing that evades "the discourse that regulates the phallocentric system." (Cixous, Hélène. "The Laugh of the Medusa.") For Cixous, écriture féminine is not only a possibility for female writers; rather, she believes it can be (and has been) employed by male authors such as James Joyce.

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