Macquarie University
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Carnal transcendence as difference: the poetics of Luce Irigaray

posted on 2022-03-28, 22:25 authored by Agnes Mary Bosanquet
Carnal transcendence imagines a world in which the carnal has the weight and value of transcendence, and the divine is as liveable and readily evoked as the carnal. Carnal transcendence offers a means of thinking through difference in the work of Luce Irigaray, who asks: "why and how long ago did God withdraw from carnal love?" (1991a, p 16). This thesis argues that Irigaray enables her readers to explore the relationship between carnality, transcendence and difference, but resists elaborating it in her work. Carnal transcendence as difference risks remaining an exercise in rhetoric, rather than the transformative and creative philosophy that Irigaray imagines. -- Irigaray's resistance to the carnal is evident in her arguments for sexual difference, which offers our "salvation" if we think it through, and heralds "a new age of thought, art, poetry, and language: the creation of a new poetics" (1993a, p 5). Note the language of transcendence used here. When considered in the light of carnal transcendence, sexual difference imagines a differently sexed culture. This thesis argues that Irigaray's writing is contradictory on this point: it articulates the plurality of women's sexuality, but emphatically excludes theories of sex and gender that emphasise multiplicity. This thesis challenges these limitations by exploring the possibilities of the "other" couple in Irigaray's writing-mother and daughter - for thinking through carnal transcendence as difference. -- This thesis not only explicates a theoretical model for carnal transcendence as difference; it also attempts to put into practice a poetics - a playful rewriting of theory. This celebrates the carnality of Irigaray's writing - evident in her complex imagery of the two lips, mucus, the placenta and angels-and enables an exploration of the philosophical space of the "new poetics" that Irigaray is attempting to engender.


Alternative Title

Poetics of Luce Irigaray

Table of Contents

Carnal transcendence and sexual difference -- An amorous exchange -- Angels playing with placentas -- Fluid subjects -- Poetics -- Oneiric spaces -- Conclusion.


Bibliography: p. 303-332

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Music, Media, Culture and Communication Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nick Mansfield


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Agnes Mary Bosanquet 2009.




332 p. ill (some col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:6950 1352113