Deleuze and the author

Kennedy, Niall (2016) Deleuze and the author. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis argues that Gilles Deleuze, as philosopher, reader, and critic, recognised the central importance of a defined authorial subjectivity, closely associated with a philosophical or intellectual project, and that his analyses of philosophy, literature, visual art and cinema were shaped and determined by his recognition of that authority. In this respect, my reading challenges those critics who find in the work of Deleuze an assault on ‘author-centric’ interpretations of texts, and more generally on the concept of a unified self, and which uphold experimentation on the part of the reader or critic rather than interpretation. I argue that Deleuze has a coherent and meaningful conception of an author as a consciousness which persists through time, learns, plans and makes projects, differentiates itself from the work of other authors, is inspired and creative, takes positions in relation to the inheritance of artistic and philosophical traditions, and which is capable of entering into collaboration with others. Through close reading of Deleuze’s texts, I demonstrate that he consistently relies on the authorial function to impose unity and coherence on the distinctive - and often remarkable - body of work of an individual theorist or practitioner. I argue that the historical, political and social situation of an author is of great importance to the analysis of a text. Finally, unlike Roland Barthes or other critics invested in the ‘death’ or displacement of the author, I argue that Deleuze considers the competing interpretations of a text advanced by the reader or spectator to be of little or no importance.

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