Teresa de Lauretis

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Teresa de Lauretis (born 1938 in Bologna) is an Italian author and Distinguished Professor Emerita of the History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her doctorate in Modern Languages and Literatures from Bocconi University in Milan before coming to the United States. She joined the History of Consciousness with Hayden White, Donna Haraway, Fredric Jameson and Angela Davis. She has held Visiting Professorships at universities worldwide including ones in Canada, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Argentina, Chile, France, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Mexico and the Netherlands.

Her areas of interest include semiotics, psychoanalysis, film theory, literary theory, feminism, lesbian and queer studies. She has also written on science fiction. Fluent in English and Italian, she writes in both languages. Additionally, her work has been translated into sixteen other languages.

Honors, Awards and Grants[edit]

  • Guest of honour, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina (2014)
  • Doctor honoris causa, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina (2014)
  • Distinguished Career Award, Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2010)
  • IHR Humanities Research Fellowship (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, University of Lund, Sweden (2005)
  • UCHRI Resident Faculty Fellowship, University of California, Irvine (2003-2004)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (1993)
  • NEH Fellowship for University Teachers (1992)
  • Conference Grant, Humanities Division, U of California, Santa Cruz (1990)
  • Conference Grant, Research Council of Canada (1884)
  • Research Fellowship, Center for Twentieth Century Studies, U of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (1982-83)
  • Grant in Media Studies, National Endowment for the Arts (1977-78)


Books (English):

  • Freud's Drive: Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Film (2008)
  • Figures of Resistance: Essays in Feminist Theory (2007)
  • The Practice of Love: Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire (1994)
  • Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction (1987)
  • Feminist Studies/Critical Studies (1986)
  • Alice Doesn't: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema (1984)
  • The Cinematic Apparatus (1980)
  • The Technological Imagination (1980)

Anthologies or collections she edited or co-edited:

  • Feminist Studies/Critical Studies (1986)
  • The Cinematic Apparatus (1980)
  • The Technological Imagination (1980)


Books (Italian):

  • La sintassi del desiderio: struttura e forme del romanzo sveviano (Ravenna: Longo, 1976)
  • Umberto Eco (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1981)
  • Soggetti eccentrici (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1999)


Her account of subjectivity as a product of "being subject/ed to semiosis" (i.e., making meanings and being made by them) helps to theoretically resolve and overcome the tension between the human action (agency) and structure. She makes use of Umberto Eco's reading of C.S. Peirce in order to establish her notion of semiotics of experience. She brings corporeality back to the discourse on the constitution of subjectivity which has been conceived mainly in the linguistic terms. Her semiotics is not just the semiotics of language but also the semiotics of visual images and non-verbal practices. Her (Peircean) "habit" or "habit-change" is often compared to Bourdieu's notion of habitus.

Michel Foucault’s analysis of body excludes the consideration of the specificity of the female body that many feminists have criticized. Supplementing the failure, gender should be one of the effects of technology which renders the basic intelligibility of body and that turns to de Lauretis’ "technology of gender". de Lauretis coined the term "queer theory" although the way in which it is used today differs from what she originally suggested by the term.[1] Although she coined the term she abandoned it barely three years later, on the grounds that it had been taken over by those mainstream forces and institutions it was coined to resist.[2]


She currently lives in San Francisco, CA, but often spends time in Italy and the Netherlands.


  1. ^ David Halperin. "The normalizing of queer theory." Journal of Homosexuality, 45(2003):343
  2. ^ Australian humanities review - "Queer Theory"

External links[edit]