The provocations of Luce Irigaray


  • Ann-Marie Priest


Luce Irigaray, phallocentrism, the feminine, the other, academic language and learning


In her seminal works, Speculum of the other woman and This sex which is not one, French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray teaches us to seek out what is hidden, silent, unknown and seemingly unknowable in language. For her, it is in the fractures in the text, the breaks in coherence, the lapses of sense and meaning that the feminine – which she defines as a mode of being that can only take place outside of Western philosophy’s ubiquitous binaries – may be glimpsed. In the work of Academic Language and Learning (ALL) practitioners, however, the focus is quite different. We seek to heal the fractures and smooth over the lapses of meaning in the student texts we work with. In fact, our aim is to usher students into the very discourses Irigaray argues oppress and suppress the feminine in Western culture. This paper reflects on this seeming contradiction and the ethical and philosophical questions it raises. In particular, it draws on Irigaray’s recent work on language and teaching to suggest that through a “horizontal” relationship between the learning adviser and the student, it may be possible to create the conditions in which the feminine can take place.




How to Cite

Priest, A.-M. (2014). The provocations of Luce Irigaray. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 8(3), A84-A90. Retrieved from