University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Caius MCR/SCR research talks > Desire, Femininity, and the Non-Oedipal Subject: Deleuze and the Films of Marguerite Duras

Desire, Femininity, and the Non-Oedipal Subject: Deleuze and the Films of Marguerite Duras

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In Marguerite Duras’s books and films, excessive desire recurs as a figure for rethinking the subject, the ethical relation, and society. Across the Durassian corpus, this desire surfaces at the margins of society, in liminal spaces where bodies and the gaze are unharnessed from the domesticated Oedipal narrative. In particular, her work imagines positions of desire for transgressive female subjects. Neither Duras nor Deleuze defined themselves as feminist, in each case as part of a refusal of dogmatic, pre-defined socio-political categories; however, both sought to imagine horizons of resistance to patriarchally-defined gender identities. From the feminist gaze theory of the 1970s to the phenomenological turn of film criticism in the 1990s, cinema has emerged as a site for thinking desire through, and beyond, a psychoanalytic model predicated on an active-passive gender binary. Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of desire is essential to the advancement of such a project, as it conceptualises the liberation of desire from the Oedipal framework. As Duras uses film form to conceive of the subject and desire outside the Oedipal, scopophilic model, her films occupy a privileged position at the intersection of questions of sexual difference, the subject, and spectatorship. Reading Duras’s experimental films with Deleuze’s philosophy, I explore the ways in which desire emerges as a liberatory, revolutionary force for the (female) subject.

This talk is part of the Caius MCR/SCR research talks series.

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