Becoming queer : from rhetoric to rhizomes and toward a politics of process
Loewen Walker, Rachel S
Being is Becoming: selves are constantly changing, always in process, and never able to arrive at a coherent identity. Contemporary discussions of sexual and gendered identity have replaced the view that heterosexuality is an innate or “natural” category with views that sexuality is fluid and multiple. Consequently, desire is a creative force in the engendering of sexual subjectivities and new social communities, rather than a negative force that limits gendered development to a heteronormative model. With this in mind, this thesis has three interrelated, yet distinct aims. The first is to explore the concept of sexual subjectivity, asking questions such as do human beings have a knowable sexual identity? And how have Freudian psychoanalysis and Foucauldian poststructuralism contributed to our contemporary understandings of sexuality? My second aim is to clarify Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy of becoming, using the metaphor of the rhizome to link feminist philosophy, queer theory, and subsequent deconstructions of sexual identity. My third project is to identify what is meant by becoming queer, including how it challenges the authority of heteronormative institutions. In order to demonstrate the potentialities of becoming queer, I conduct a case study of Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan’s performance project “Lesbian National Parks and Services.” Through their performance art practice, Dempsey and Millan challenge dominant narratives of heterosexuality and fixed gender identity, offering a starting point for discussions of the reciprocity between artistic practice, social movements, and academic discourse. In addition, they demonstrate how queer becomings participate in an ethics of accountability, that is, as materially-situated, localized subjectivities they are able to alter and transform their environments.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorHowe, Leslie A.
CommitteeMeyers, Mark; Hoffman, Sarah; Borsa, Joan