Becoming worlds: place, subjectivity and assemblage in literature for young adults
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 22:39 authored by Andrea Zarate
Child subjectivity is a key area within children’s literature research. This thesis explores the notion of embodied subjectivity by locating the formation of subject hood in the context of place. I discuss representations of place in a range of literature for young adults, drawing primarily from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s ontology of becoming to conceptualise place as a constantly shifting, unstable assemblage that not only physically enacts practices of power, but also reveals the instability of social organisation and discourse. I propose that the concepts within Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of becoming allow us to consider children’s texts beyond frameworks of ideology and power. Discussions that privilege ideology implicitly place the child in a powerless position, limiting our readings to how the child subject’s actions resist or comply with dominant social ideologies. I argue that such readings blind us to other models of agency and subjectivity, reifying ideology over the capacity of minor subjects to create new relations and changes within the social field. My analysis of place reveals that children’s literature is a genre that thrives when read for, and through, multiplicity. Deleuze and Guattari’s theories allow us to consider young adult literature as a genre characterised by becoming: becoming-place, becoming-subject and becoming-minor. I conclude that children’s literature does not only function to reflect ideological concerns or convey social agenda, but, through its representations of place and social order, also has the capacity to present its own emergent ontology of the becoming subject.