This interview first appeared in Substance 13, 19–37, 1976.
cm I would like to talk about your two principal roles: scholar-essayist and “writer in the feminine” [“écrivaine”]. Concerning this word, I saw the defenses go up when I proposed to use it instead of “Women Writers” [“femmes écrivains”] at the convention of the International Association of Women Writers in Nice. Do you consider a certain renovation of language to be useful or pointless?
cixous You know, I don't even wonder about such things. I think that in France the language is very rigid. You, in the United States and I, too, in France share this experience: we are well aware that one knows how to fabricate neologisms; when there is a need for them, they come! As for their codification … usage decides. Personally, I don't know whether I would like the word “écrivaine” at the phonic level. Because of my mania for playing on the signifier, I hear with marked insistence the “vaine”, vaine in the sense of “empty”. Therefore I have this immediate reticence: I am not sure it is a good word, a beautiful word. But it is obviously quite a problem: I am convinced there is a great deal of work to be done on the lexicon.
cm Would you explain how you happened to found a group for women's studies?
cixous It has to do with a series of steps I have taken over the last few years.