Deleuze and The Girl

Sep. 10, 2010

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 23, Issue 5 (September 2010), pages 579 – 587.

In this article, the author seeks to represent a concept which is described by Deleuze and Guattari as movement that is simultaneous, asymmetrical, instantaneous, unfinalized, zig-zag. This movement is Deleuze and Guattari's concept of difference, that which they name becoming.

To put this concept of becoming to work, the author uses three texts.
One is chapter 10 of A Thousand Plateaus, the second is Brian Massumi's book A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia, and the last is a short excerpt from the author's fieldnotes taken during her ethnographic research on the subject formation of adolescent girls.
Specifically, the girl is Jesse, a senior cheerleader whose daily school life involved seeking and expressing her difference, or her becoming. She struggled against the over-coded, essentialized category of cheerleader and the discursive and material expectations of that category at her high school.

Deleuze and Guattari's concept of becoming allows the author to explore Jesse's unique difference, to privilege her specificity. So rather than looking on the surface to 'see' the uniforms and uniformity of Jesse (or try to ascertain how she is 'like' a cheerleader, or 'fits into' the category), the author's task here is to work with the girl as an event, to represent how Jesse unfolds herself through micro-particular movements with her others. Her specificities were single, concrete instances of how she dressed, how she behaved during practice, how she moved her body, how she expressed her desires. These 'singular and concrete forms' make up the activity of her becoming.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus – Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980 TP) trans. Brian Massumi (1987: University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis).

Massumi, Brian. A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari. The MIT Press. March 6, 1992. Paperback, 235 pages.

Updated: Mar. 01, 2011