Becoming-Animal and Becoming-Woman Explored Through a Feminine Minor Literature


  • Margaret Hynes Memorial University of Newfoundland


In this essay I will critically examine the concepts of becoming-woman and becoming-animal as discussed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I will explore them in terms of lines of flight and reterritorialization and how these might be realized differently through literature and art, namely écriture feminine (Cixous), a writing that destabilizes the molar phallogocentric tradition. More specifically I will discuss Clarice Lispector’s literary work The Passion According to G.H. and Leonora Carrington’s short stories. Femininity has been historically linked with chaos, the body, and animality rather than reason, in order to exclude women from logocentric disciplines of knowledge. I propose that this oppressive association might be reclaimed and reterritorialized to offer liberatory possibilities towards becoming. I do not aim to offer a structuralist or literary interpretation of these works, but rather to illuminate how these stories might function mechanically according to Deleuze and Guattari’s concept creations in the way Deleuze and Guattari do with Kafka as a minor literature. In G.H., the title character experiences her domesticity and bourgeois femininity as a confining rigid identity but experiences a deterritorialization and ontological interruption of her bounded everyday experience once she discovers unexpectedly a cockroach on her floor. She begins an ongoing line of flight towards becoming-cockroach, and therefore towards better understanding the being of this primordial creature, one that most humans experience as other, invader, and disgusting. Carrington’s surrealist stories offer darkly comic tales of transformation, of hoards of animals, of hybrids (both animal and sexual), and of becoming-animal, becom­ing-human, and becoming-woman. I will use Cixous’ and Braidotti’s writings on Lispector and Elizabeth Grosz’ readings of Deleuze and Guattari to aid my exploration into how the notions of becoming-animal and becoming-woman open new liberatory positions hitherto unavailable.

Keywords: Becoming, Écriture Feminine, Feminist Theory, Materialism, Minor Literature, Leonora Carrington, Hélène Cixous, Deleuze and Guattari, Clarice Lispector


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