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Becoming nomadic, becoming woman : minoritarian becomings in the Deleuzian theater Spiegel, Jennifer B.

Abstract

In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari claim that within contemporary Western society, every movement beyond the normative must pass through the stage of "becomingwoman," Woman being the dominant "other" against which the masculine political majority has defined its self-image. Becoming-Woman acts as the entryway into a nomadic theatre in so far as it indicates a willingness to inhabit positions and perspectives other than those delineated as normatively powerful and to develop according to these alternative desires. "Becoming Woman" does not, however, represent an end in itself, but plays an introductory role that may facilitate a potentially infinite number of minoritarian "becomings." Ultimately, this nomadic theatre seeks to destabilize the stronghold that identity-based thinking has on the production and limitation of our desires. It celebrates a multiplicity of desires by focusing not on the ways abstract norms and identities are represented, but rather on the way in which every lived gesture repeats a series of images and, in so doing, makes that image into something entirely new. The question I ask here, however, is to what extent can a nomadic "becoming-woman" serve to empower women and minorities given the historical lack of strong identities that have been available to facilitate their becoming? The first half of this thesis is dedicated to developing the strategies of minoritarian becoming in the Deleuzian nomadic theatre. I argue that while this approach allows us to move beyond received normative ways of being, it does not yet provide the necessary tools to assure that minority desires will not simply be appropriated by a political majority. The second half of this thesis therefore explores possible tools for developing approaches to cultural media that can not only serve a generalized process of becoming-minoritarian or becoming-woman, but that can do so in a manner that also furthers the desires of women and minorities. Here I consider the approaches of Cixous, Irigaray, Braidotti and Butler as providing possible avenues for developing these desires. My focus throughout is on how these strategies inform approaches to cultural production and I therefore show how some of these strategies work in various nonrepresentational theatre and performance pieces, including the theatrical productions of Artaud and Cixous, the drag performances of Divine, and other approaches. I conclude by suggesting a re-reading of Deleuze that allows for the insights of the feminists I examined and that may pave the way for the development of cultural media focused on building alliances amongst women and minorities through the use of community theatre and carnival.

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