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Morphologies of Becoming: Posthuman Dandies in Fin-de-Siècle France.

Starik, Marina (2013) Morphologies of Becoming: Posthuman Dandies in Fin-de-Siècle France. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation provides a methodology for considering the dandy as a prototype of post-humanity in selected texts of fin-de-siècle French literature. While the enduring interest in the dandy continues to inspire numerous critical interventions, the present study’s contribution is to envision the dandy as engaged in an aesthetic and economic project, rather than an ideological one. Although largely apolitical, paradoxically, the dandy is a keen social critic who, wittingly or not, pushes to transcend the borders between humanity and animality, history and myth, body and machine.
The main theoretical framework informing the thesis is Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of becoming. Mutation, mimicry, symbiosis, proximity, athleticism, assembly into packs and couples, and foregoing subjectivity are among the ways that “dandy-becomings” are manifested in the characters of Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, Barbey d’Aurevilly’s Le Bonheur dans le crime, Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror, Rachilde’s L’Animale, Villiers de l’Ile-Adam’s L’Ève future, Colette Peignot’s Écrits de Laure, and Marcel Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps perdu. As the title implies, this study equally engages with posthumanism – a multidisciplinary field bringing together Jean-François Lyotard, Donna Haraway, N. Katherine Hayles, and Neil Badmington, among others. Their differing views on embodiment are especially instrumental in clarifying another paradox within the dandy: as the posthumanists, who split into those who argue for the complete virtualization of the body, and those who insist on its persistent physical presence, similarly, the dandy is torn between the drive toward imperceptibility, and a complete investment in the body as a signifying surface.
While taking into account the history of the French dandy as a cultural, intellectual, and literary phenomenon typically associated with Romanticism, the study of the dandy as “posthuman becoming” demonstrates that the figure remains relevant for a much longer period, as it projects itself well into the twentieth century. This analysis spans a period of sixty years, between 1867, the year of publication of Thérèse Raquin, and 1938, the year of Colette Peignot’s death. However, as the conclusion suggests, the dandy continues to look for new expressions and reappears even today in both high and low culture.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Committee MemberSmith, PhilipPSMITH@pitt.eduPSMITH
Committee MemberReeser, Toddreeser@pitt.eduREESER
Committee MemberHogg, Chloéhoggca@pitt.eduHOGGCA
Date: 31 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 November 2012
Approval Date: 31 January 2013
Submission Date: 27 November 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 254
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: stardom, performance, celebrity, self-fashioning, autopoiesis, androgyny, disembodiment, armor, athleticism
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2013 20:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:07


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