UA Professor Monique Wittig Remembered as French Writer, Poet, Social Theorist

UA News Services
Jan. 8, 2003

Monique Wittig, a professor in Women's Studies and French at the University of Arizona, died Jan. 3, 2003 in Tucson. She was 67.

Wittig, a French writer, poet and social theorist, was born July 13, 1935 in Alsace, France.

Wittig's first novel, "The Opoponax" (1964), brought her major critical acclaim and the coveted Prix Medici. As a founding leader in the French feminist movement, Her literary and theoretical works were recognized as essential contributions to feminist thought in Europe and the United States and to the emerging movement for lesbian and gay rights.

After moving to the United States in the mid-1970s, Wittig held a number of university teaching positions before joining the French department at the UA in 1990. Wittig also went on to become a professor of Women's Studies in 1998.

Wittig's work has had a fundamental impact upon feminist theory and lesbian and gay theory worldwide. Her novels, including "Les Guérillères" (1969), "TheLesbian Body" (1973), "Lesbian Peoples: Materials for a Dictionary" (co-authored with Sande Zeig, (1975), and "Virgile, non" (1984), translated as "Across the Acheron," (in 1987) combine a sensitivity to the nuances of language and style with a powerful illustration of her philosophy of lesbian materialism, a theoretical position she set forth in a series of essays collected in "The Straight Mind" (1992), a term she coined.

Her work has been translated into a dozen languages, including German, Dutch, Finish, Japanese, and Spanish. Her collaboration with Zeig resulted in the imaginative staging of her play "The Constant Journey" (1985) in the United States and in Paris, and most recently a feature film based on her short story, "The Girl" (2001), directed by Sande Zeig.

Wittig is survived by her partner, Sande Zeig; mother, Maria Wittig; sister,Gilberte Wittig; and niece, Dominique Samson.


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