Revolutionary Time

On Time and Difference in Kristeva and Irigaray

By Fanny Söderbäck

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Philosophy, Feminist
Hardcover : 9781438476995, 414 pages, December 2019
Paperback : 9781438477008, 414 pages, July 2020

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Table of contents


Part I. Why Time?

Introduction: Time for Change
French Feminism and the Problem of Time
On Time and Change
Decolonial and Queer Critiques of Time
A Note on Language
Part II. Revolutionary Time

1. Linear Time, Cyclical Time, Revolutionary Time
From Beauvoir’s Sexual Division of Temporal Labor to Revolutionary Time
Three Temporal Models, Three Feminist Waves
Kristeva and Irigaray on Time and Difference

2. Alterity and Alteration
Time, Change, and Sexuate Difference
Remaking Immanence and Transcendence
Mimesis, Imitation, and Strategic Displacement

3. Revolutionizing Time
Returning to the Body . . . and the Soul
Intimate Revolt: The Time of Psychoanalysis
Re-Membering the Past: Memorial Art
Part III. The Present

4. The Problem of the Present
Metaphysical Presence
Metaphysical Absence
To Be Finite Is to Have Been Born

5. Temporalizing the Present
Breathing Life into Presence: The Praxis of Yoga and Pranayama
(Re)presenting Becoming: Poetry as a Practice of Presencing
Time for Love: Presence as Co-presence

6. An Ethics of Temporal Difference
On the Propriety of Self and Other
Becoming Two: Encountering the Stranger Within
(Un)Timely Revolutions: The Timelessness of the Unconscious
Part IV. The Past

7. Returning to the Maternal Body
Feminism and Motherhood
Mothers Lost: Matricide
Other Mothers: A Colonial Maternal Continent

8. Motherhood According to Kristeva
Plato’s Cho¯ra Revisited: Receptacle or Revolutionary?
Flesh Flash: On Time and Motherhood
Temporalizing Mat(t)er: On the Interdependence Between Semiotic and Symbolic

9. Motherhood According to Irigaray
Plato’s Cave Revisited: An Impossible Metaphor
The Substitution of Origins for Beginnings
Mother Lost, Time Lost
Part V. The Future

A Non-Conclusive Conclusion: New Beginnings
Suspended Time, Foreclosed Futures
Arendt and the Unpredictability of the Future
New Beginnings

Examines the relationship between time and sexual difference in the work of French feminists Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray.


This book is the first to examine the relationship between time and sexual difference in the work of Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray. Because of their association with reproduction, embodiment, and the survival of the species, women have been confined to the cyclical time of nature—a temporal model that is said to merely repeat itself. Men, on the other hand, have been seen as bearers of linear time and as capable of change and progress. Fanny Söderbäck argues that both these temporal models make change impossible because they either repeat or repress the past. The model of time developed here—revolutionary time—aims at returning to and revitalizing the past so as to make possible a dynamic-embodied present and a future pregnant with change. Söderbäck stages an unprecedented conversation between Kristeva and Irigaray on issues of both time and difference, and engages thinkers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt, and Plato along the way.

Fanny Söderbäck is Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. She is the coeditor (with Henriette Gunkel and Chrysanthi Nigianni) of Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice and the editor of Feminist Readings of Antigone, also published by SUNY Press.


"This provocative, unique examination of these two philosophers' understandings of time provides a thought-provoking look at how time continues to be used in sexual differencing. Revolutionary Time will be an excellent resource for those interested in the philosophy of time, feminism, race studies, and the politics of power … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"Revolutionary Time makes a distinctive contribution to contemporary feminist and continental philosophical thought. By engaging Kristeva and Irigaray in depth alongside one another, and making time the guiding thread for reading their work, the author generates insights that are not to be found elsewhere in the existing literature. Through its development of the concept of revolutionary time, the book offers rich resources for thinking about temporalization in its existential, ontological, and political dimensions, in ways that are particularly valuable for feminist projects of change and political transformation. " — Rachel Jones, author of Irigaray: Towards a Sexuate Philosophy