Kristeva's Thérèse: Mysticism and Modernism


  • Carol Mastrangelo Bové University of Pittsburgh



mysticism, modernism, women, Catholicism, psychoanalysis, masochism,


This essay focuses on Julia Kristeva’s recent volume Thérèse mon amour:  Sainte Thérèse d’Avila (2008), describing and placing this blend of novel, play, psychoanalytic cultural theory, and case history in the context of her work.  I argue that the volume contributes to an understanding of religion’s impact—especially Catholic mysticism--on Western categories of women.  I address in particular Thérèse’s mysticism and modernist use of a feminine figure to subvert practices threatening the vitality of the psyche and of social relations.  As in Kristeva’s earlier writing, her psychoanalytic approach to Catholicism’s influence continues to raise questions concerning the apparent stereotypes the approach may feed, especially that of the masochistic woman.

Author Biography

Carol Mastrangelo Bové, University of Pittsburgh

Department of English, Senior Lecturer