Teresa de Lauretis|
(1938 - living) Italy
Film scholar and queer theorist
Teresa de Lauretis, born in Bologna, is an author and Distinguished Professor Emerita of the History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her areas of interest include semiotics, psychoanalysis, film theory, literary theory, feminism, lesbian and queer studies. She has also written on science fiction. Fluent in English and Italian, she writes in both languages. Additionally, her work has been translated into sixteen other languages.
De Lauretis received her doctorate in Modern Languages and Literatures from Bocconi University in Milan before moving to the United States. She joined the History of Consciousness with Hayden White, Donna Haraway, Fredric Jameson and Angela Davis. Has held Visiting Professorships at universities worldwide including ones in Canada, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Argentina, Chile, France, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Mexico and the Netherlands. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA, but often spends time in Italy and the Netherlands.
De Lauretis' account of subjectivity as a product of "being subject/ed to semiosis" (i.e., making meanings and being made by them) helps to theoretically resolve and overcome the tension between the human action (agency) and structure. She makes use of Umberto Eco's reading of C.S. Peirce in order to establish her notion of semiotics of experience.
She brings corporeality back to the discourse on the constitution of subjectivity which has been conceived mainly in the linguistic terms. Her semiotics is not just the semiotics of language but also the semiotics of visual images and non-verbal practices. Her (Peircean) "habit" or "habit-change" is often compared to Bourdieu's notion of habitus.
Michel Foucault's analysis of body excludes the consideration of the specificity of the female body that many feminists have criticized. Supplementing the failure, gender should be one of the effects of technology which renders the basic intelligibility of body and that turns to de Lauretis' "technology of gender". De Lauretis coined the term "queer theory" although the way in which it is used today differs from what she originally suggested by the term. Although she coined the term she abandoned it barely three years later, on the grounds that it had been taken over by those mainstream forces and institutions it was coined to resist.
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