Thesis ID: CBB263427194

Deluge: On the Female Animal (2019)


This dissertation offers several aesthetic responses to the conjoined fields of feminist science and technology studies, philosophy, and posthumanism. In particular it focuses on how ideas of the natural, the unnatural, and the supernatural have been delineated in both theory and practice. How have things and persons moved between these categories and what markers signal boundary-crossings? What types of possibilities, limitations or violences do these distinctions engender and how could they be reformulated? Intimately embedded in questions around the bounding of nature are questions about how the human is bounded, in both a material and semiotic sense. A central posthumanist project is the extension of moral consideration beyond the human through a redefinition of personhood that recognizes radically different ways of being-in-the-world. I push forward this posthumanism project through literally altering humans and humanist traits within images, storylines and worldmaking practices.While these theoretical concerns form the explicit content of the project, I also make three implicit interventions into aesthetic politics. Here I use the original definition of aesthetic, meaning related to sensory perception. The first aesthetic assertion I make is that ideas require a perceptual vehicle in order to be communicated. While the dominant or privileged form is text, this form is neither natural nor neutral. Second, the relationship between idea and form is non-binary. Thirdly, the relationship between an idea and its perceptual form is mutational. Form mutates idea and idea in turn mutates form. Any act of communication requires this mutational process. Neither form nor idea is originary, rather they are co-constitutive. These aesthetic interventions mirror the theoretical interventions of my project. The root of the word genre, like gender, is genus. To assign a genre is to categorize an individual work on the basis of a set of particular traits within a broader taxonomical system. Like all taxonomic fictions, genres exist in so far as they are upheld through maintenance, the policing of boundaries, replication, mimicry, and so on. My refusal to uphold the boundary between image and text is essential to the theoretical project of theorizing gender, race and species.Failures to perform race, gender and species appropriately are intertwined. Even as this project seeks to question woman as the protagonist of feminism, it also mobilizes failed femininity as a generative theoretical-aesthetic site for thinking about animacy and intimacy. I track the mythical figure of the Wild Woman as she persists in contemporary cultural production, manifested in taboos around female solitude, singleness, unkemptness, hairiness, danger, anger, madness, closeness to (super)nature, and intimacy with non-humans. Bodily intimacy and bodily exchange with alien others has often constituted ontological failure while also challenging established animacy hierarchies or taxonomies. In visually positing malleable or multiple subjectivities and disruptive animacies this project asks, what forms of intimate exchange are desirable, pleasurable or tolerable? What new archetypes or archetypal relationships are needed in order to imagine the expanded moral terrain of coexistence?The political and intellectual work of this project takes place in both the storylines and the creation of speculative protagonists, subjectivities, relations and world(s). The images and narratives of these speculative cosmologies seek to offer strategic departures from consensus reality, drawing attention to the constructedness of all cosmologies, while also critiquing the dominant logics that underpin consensus reality. Through critical engagement with cosmological constructedness, this project posits myth-making as both descriptive and constructive.

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Authors & Contributors
Clough, Sharyn
Sander, Sabine
Lee, Keekok
Bednarczyk, A.
Forschner, Maximilian
Harding, Sandra G.
Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki
Postcolonial Studies
Ethics, Place and Environment
Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Rowman & Littlefield
Palgrave Macmillan
Duke University Press
Fordham University Press
University of Minnesota Press
Human body
Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de
Thomas Aquinas, Saint
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm
Deleuze, Gilles
Levi Ben Gershon
Time Periods
Early modern
17th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
United States

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