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Pataphysical Networking: Virtuality, Potentiality and the Experimental Works of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, the Oulipo, and the Mouvement Panique

Tomkowicz, Paulina (2018) Pataphysical Networking: Virtuality, Potentiality and the Experimental Works of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, the Oulipo, and the Mouvement Panique. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation investigates the Collège de Pataphysique, a little-known mid-20th century French artistic movement, and two related groups, the Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature) and the Mouvement Panique. The imaginary science of pataphysics was invented in 1893 by Alfred Jarry who argued that existing scientific laws only offered a limited number of possible explanations for worldly phenomena. The notion of pataphysics was picked up by the Collège in 1948, and its practitioners advocated the exploration of alternative approaches to reality through artistic and experimental means. Scholars have tended to ignore the Collège’s influence on 20th century French art and culture, preferring instead to treat its most famous practitioners, such as Raymond Queneau and Boris Vian, in isolation rather than as members of the pataphysical network. My dissertation contests dismissals of the Collège’s importance by reconstructing its long-occluded artistic genealogy and tracking its connections and ongoing cultural activities. Such an examination shows why pataphysical methods and modes of work might be relevant in contemporary intellectual and artistic contexts.
My first chapter traces the history of the Collège de Pataphysique. I examine the Collège’s founding documents and literary texts by pataphysicians, Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian and René Clair, demonstrating how they implement pataphysical philosophy in the process of creation. The second chapter focuses on the Oulipo and three of its writers, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino and Marcel Bénabou, who use literature to experiment with potentiality and virtuality. The third chapter describes the case of the Mouvement Panique, and through films of its founders, Fernando Arrabal and Alejandro Jodorowsky, demonstrates that the cultivation of pataphysics is not limited to literature and can be realized in cinema. In the final chapter I look at the Collège’s contemporary publications and activities in order to draw conclusions about the growth of the pataphysical network and its importance for today’s arts and sciences.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tomkowicz, Paulinapat35@pitt.edupat350000-0001-8691-8637
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPettersen,
Committee MemberMecchia,
Committee MemberHogg,
Committee MemberFischer,
Date: 27 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 May 2018
Approval Date: 27 September 2018
Submission Date: 18 May 2018
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 305
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: Pataphysics, Potentiality, Virtuality, Experimental Literature, Experimental Cinema, French Studies, Affect Theory, Oulipo, Panic Movement, Mouvement Panique, College of Pataphysics, Collège de 'Pataphysique, Pataphysical Network
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 23:12
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 05:15


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