Moving Rhizomatically: Deleuze's Child in 21st Century American Literature and Film

Title: Moving Rhizomatically: Deleuze's Child in 21st Century American Literature and Film
Authors: Bohlmann, Markus P. J.
Date: 2012
Abstract: My dissertation critiques Western culture’s vertical command of “growing up” to adult completion (rational, heterosexual, married, wealthy, professionally successful) as a reductionist itinerary of human movement leading to subjective sedimentations. Rather, my project proposes ways of “moving rhizomatically” by which it advances a notion of a machinic identity that moves continuously, contingently, and waywardly along less vertical, less excruciating and more horizontal, life-affirmative trails. To this end, my thesis proposes a “rhizomatic semiosis” as extrapolated from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to put forward a notion of language and, by implication, subjectivity, as dynamic and metamorphic. Rather than trying to figure out who the child is or what it experiences consciously, my project wishes to embrace an elusiveness at the heart of subjectivity to argue for continued identity creation beyond the apparently confining parameters of adulthood. This dissertation, then, is about the need to re-examine our ways of growing beyond the lines of teleological progression. By turning to Deleuze’s child, an intangible one that “makes desperate attempts to carry out a performance that the psychoanalyst totally misconstrues” (A Thousand Plateaus 13), I wish to shift focus away from the hierarchical, binary, and ideal model of “growing up” and toward a notion of movement that makes way for plural identities in their becoming. This endeavour reveals itself in particular in the work of John Wray, Todd Field, Peter Cameron, Sara Prichard, Michael Cunningham, and Cormac McCarthy, whose work has received little or no attention at all—a lacuna in research that exists perhaps due to these artists’ innovative approach to a minor literature that promotes the notion of a machinic self and questions the dominant modes of Western culture’s literature for, around, and of children.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -