Toril Moi in 2006
|Born||28 November 1953|
|Occupation||literary critic, theorist|
|Subject||Feminist literary criticism, culture, theater|
Toril Moi (born 28 November 1953 in Farsund, Norway) is James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies and Professor of English, Philosophy and Theatre Studies at Duke University. Moi is also the Director of the Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature at Duke. As an undergraduate, she attended University of Bergen, where she studied in the Literature Department. Previously she held positions as a lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and as Director of the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Bergen, Norway. She lived in Oxford, United Kingdom from 1979 to 1989. Moi currently lives in North Carolina. She works on feminist theory and women's writing; on the intersections of literature, philosophy and aesthetics; and is fundamentally concerned with "finding ways of reading literature with philosophy and philosophy with literature without reducing the one to the other."
In 2002, she was awarded an honorary degree, doctor philos. honoris causa, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In 1998, she won Duke's University Teacher of the Year Award and in 2008 she won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring of Graduate Students.
On feminist theories
Moi made her name with Sexual/Textual Politics of 1986, a survey of second-wave feminism in which she tellingly contrasted the more empirical Anglo-American school of writings, such as gynocriticism, with the more theoretical French proponents of Ecriture feminine. While widely perceived at the time as an attack on the Anglo-American approach, Moi would later highlight her respect for their more politicized stance, as opposed to the idealism of the post-structuralists. The book would also explore the concept of androgyny, along with its links to the anti-essentialism of the French school.
Sexual/Textual Politics was followed by further explorations of contemporary French feminists such as Julia Kristeva, before Moi turned to her ground-breaking nineties study of Simone de Beauvoir. A decade later, however, with her focus of attention shifting more to ordinary language philosophy from existentialism, Moi would regretfully conclude that the initial excitement around women's literature had unfortunately been dissipated in a theoretical fog of issues around gender, performativity and the post-structuralist subject.
Her most recent book, Revolution of the Ordinary: Literary Studies after Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell (2017), articulates an ordinary language philosophy-inspired approach to the task of literary criticism. The book has been praised by many critics, including Rita Felski, R.M. Berry, Robert Pippin, and John Gibson, among others. Writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, V. Joshua Adams claims that Moi's book "makes a case for rejecting the approach to language that the 'theory project' produced. . .beyond challenging the ways that literary studies thinks about language, Moi challenges the distinction between literature and life.” Revolution of the Ordinary also makes important interventions in the field of postcritique.
- Moi, Revolution of the Ordinary: Literary Studies after Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell (2017)
- ___, Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (1985; 2nd edition 2002)
- ___, Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman (1994)
- ___, What Is a Woman? And Other Essays (1999)
- ___, Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy (Oxford University Press 2006). [A Norwegian translation was published by Pax Forlag (Oslo) in May 2006)
- Moi ed., The Kristeva Reader (1986)
- ___ ed., French Feminist Thought (1987)
- "Honorary doctors at NTNU". Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
- "Gruppe 4: Litteraturvitenskap" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- The Conversant
- J. Childers ed., The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism (1996) p. 11-2
- E. Fallaize ed., Simone de Beauvoir (1998) p. 72
- M. Payne, Life.After.Theory (2004) p. 139
- @I am not a woman writer'
- Revolution of the Ordinary.
- "Our Lives in Language". The Oxonian Review. 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
- Professor Moi's Official Home Page
- Professor Moi is Director of Duke's Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature (PAL)