Skip to content


My primary research interests revolve around problems of sociality, embodiment, gender, and language. I approach these questions by drawing on a number of philosophical traditions (phenomenology, structuralism and post-structuralism, feminism, the dialogical tradition), and I seek to combine reflective and empirical approaches whenever possible. I especially engage contemporary authors such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Beauvoir, Buber and Levinas, J. L. Austin, Derrida, Bourdieu, Kristeva, Irigaray, Butler, and most recently, the philosophy of language by Ferdinand de Saussure.

As a recipient of the 2009-11 Humboldt fellowship for advanced researchers at the U. of Heidelberg, Germany, I completed my second book: Saussure's Philosophy of Language as Phenomenology. Undoing the Doctrine of the Course in General Linguistics (Oxford UP, 2015).


Saussure's Philosophy of Language as Phenomenology

Undoing the Doctrine of the Course in General Linguistics

Beata Stawarska


This book draws on recent developments in research on Ferdinand de Saussure's general linguistics to challenge the structuralist doctrine associated with the posthumous Course in General Linguistics (1916) and to develop a new philosophical interpretation of Saussure's conception of language based solely on authentic source materials. This project follows two new editorial paradigms: 1. a critical re-examination of the 1916 Course in light of the relevant sources and 2. a reclamation of the historically authentic materials from Saussure's Nachlass, some of them recently discovered. In Stawarska's book, this editorial paradigm shift serves to expose the difficulties surrounding the official Saussurean doctrine with its sets of oppositional pairings: the signifier and the signified; la langue and la parole; synchrony and diachrony. The book therefore puts pressure not only on the validity of the posthumous editorial redaction of Saussure's course in general linguistics in the Course, but also on its structuralist and post-structuralist legacy within the works of Levi-Strauss, Lacan, and Derrida. Its constructive contribution consists in reclaiming the writings from Saussure's Nachlass in the service of a linguistic phenomenology, which intersects individual expression in the present with historically sedimented social conventions. Stawarska develops such a conception of language by engaging Saussure's own reflections with relevant writings by Hegel, Husserl, Roman Jakobson, and Merleau-Ponty. Finally, she enriches her philosophical critique with a detailed historical account of the material and institutional processes that led to the ghostwriting and legitimizing the Course as official Saussurean doctrine.



In my first book: Between You and I: Dialogical Phenomenology (Ohio UP, 2009), I developed a sustained argument for the primacy of interpersonal connectedness in the I-you mode. I drew on the disciplines of sociolinguistics, especially Benveniste, developmental psychology, and the dialogic tradition in philosophy, especially Buber, Rosenzweig, and Rosenstock-Huessy, to put pressure on an attachment to subjective consciousness in classical phenomenology, and the resulting difficulties in thematizing social relations. Sociolinguistic, developmental and dialogic perspectives highlight the phenomenological importance of the addressee, the inseparability of I and You, and the nature of the alternation between them. Taken together, these contributions make a strong case for the primacy of I-You connectedness and foreground the dialogic dimension of both prediscursive and discursive experience. Between You and I suggests that phenomenology is best practiced in a dialogical engagement with other disciplines. It also spells out some implications of a dialogic approach for feminism and politics.
In my earlier work, I engaged the phenomenological approaches of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty in a constructive dialogue with psychological studies of social development, notably relative to the so-called mirror stage, and mimicry of facial gestures in infancy. I also pursued the problem of the imagination and memory in Sartre’s phenomenology, and traced the complex, philosophical and empirical, heritage of his theory.