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Geometry in Jean Genet: Shaping the subject

Brueton, JL; (2016) Geometry in Jean Genet: Shaping the subject. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis offers an extended study of geometric figures in the work of Jean Genet. It examines the way in which geometry – a form whose mathematic measurement seems profoundly incongruous with a writer as poetic as Genet – structures many of his core ideas toward writing, subjectivity and the social relation. Genet’s work abounds with geometric figures: points, lines, diagonals, grids and circles populate the pages of his texts. Far from being static motifs of space, these geometric images dynamically mobilize Genet’s writing: they puncture his language; displace what he can definitively assert; and gesture to what falls through the gap of his figuration. Honing in on five geometric figures, I explore how Genet troubles the stability of the concepts they evoke. I thus consider the point as a punctum or wound; the line as a lineage; the oblique as a queer form of displacement; the square and circle as forms which partially house a subject who resists being wholly circumnavigated. Genet’s geometric shapes provide a fruitful path to approach his exploration of subjectivity, yet the subject they shape is always situated beyond the reach of any metaphor. Genet frames this inaccessibility via geometric forms that hold within them a radical resistance to being circumscribed. This is due, in part, to Genet’s refusal to fully engage in any relation that might pin down the subject. I read geometry as a form of relation par excellence, and argue that it is an invaluable metaphor for how Genet navigates the discontinuity of his social relations. This thesis tries to negotiate a gap of uncertainty between the verbal form of Genet’s geometric figures and an incommensurable meaning toward which they point. This is a poststructuralist endeavour, and by calling upon geometric figurations in Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Barthes and Nancy, I identify a common theoretical attempt to measure the gulf between our expression and our affective experience.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Geometry in Jean Genet: Shaping the subject
Language: English
Keywords: Jean Genet, geometry, subjectivity
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474903
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