Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art

Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art

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By (author) Elizabeth Grosz

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  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 231mm x 18mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 25 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: North Carolina
  • ISBN 10: 0822350718
  • ISBN 13: 9780822350712
  • Sales rank: 127,699

Product description

In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related conceptsolife, politics, and artoby exploring the implications of Charles Darwin's account of the evolution of species. Challenging characterizations of Darwin's work as a form of genetic determinism, Grosz points out that his writing reveals an insistence on the difference between natural selection and sexual selection, the principles that regulate survival and attractiveness respectively. Sexual selection complicates natural selection by introducing aesthetic factors and the expression of individual will, desire, or pleasure. Grosz explores how Darwin's theory of sexual selection transforms philosophy, our understanding of humanity in its male and female forms, our ideas of political relations, and our concepts of art. Connecting the naturalist's work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as modes of competing and coordinating forms of openness. Although feminists have been suspicious of the concepts of nature and biology central to Darwin's work, Grosz proposes that his writings are a rich resource for developing a more politicized, radical, and far-reaching feminist understanding of matter, nature, biology, time, and becoming.

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Author information

Elizabeth Grosz is Professor of Women's Studies and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of several books, including "Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth," as well as "The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely" and "Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power," both also published by Duke University Press.

Review quote

"Becoming Undone allows us to hear with new ears the words of Bergson, Irigaray, Uexkull, Deleuze and Guattari, and especially Darwin. The result is a surprising and exciting feminism in conversation with bio-philosophy and art practice--Elizabeth Grosz offers a rich, provocative, not-quite-materialist philosophy of life, matter, and the creative cosmos." Jane Bennett, author of Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things "With a passionate call for philosophy and feminism to embrace the transformative power of life as difference, Becoming Undone describes with elegant arguments the unexpected legacy of Darwin in the ontology of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, as well as their promise for an as yet unforeseeable future." Paola Marrati, author of Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy "Grosz's book is well written and easily accessible even for someone who does not know a great deal about the theorists with whom she engages." - Lasse Thomassen, Perspectives on Politics

Table of contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction Part I. Life: Human and Inhuman Becomings 1. The Inhuman in the Humanities: Darwin and the Ends of Man; 2. Deleuze, Bergson, and the Concept of Life; 3. Bergson, Deleuze, and Difference Part II. Disturbing Differences: A New Kind of Feminism 4. Feminism, Materialism, and Freedom; 5. The Future of Feminist Theory: Dreams for New Knowledges; 6. Differences Disturbing Identity: Deleuze and Feminism; 7. Irigaray and the Ontology of Sexual Difference Part III. Animals, Sex, and Art 8. Darwin and the Split between Natural and Sexual Selection; 9. Sexual Difference as Sexual Selection: Irigarayan Reflections on Darwin; 10. Art and the Animal; 11. Living Art and the Art of Life: Women's Painting from the Western Desert Notes; Bibliography; Index