Date of Award

3-29-2010

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Calvin Thomas - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Angelo Restivo - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Ian Almond - Committee Member

Abstract

This study will embrace certain features of postmodern experience so as to underline subjective embodiment as the condition, corollary, and appropriate focus of textual, rhetorical, and sociopolitical criticism. It will theorize somantics as a conceptual toolkit for mapping the structural correspondence of embodiment to the symbolic order, each thus emerging as the other’s non-foundational “efficient reason.” This study will argue that the flesh mediates the theoretic divisions of structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and existentialism, although not in a priori or essentialist ways. It will draw from their vocabularies, combining them into a vocabulary of its own while retexturing their relation to one another. It thus aspires to reduce all rhetorics and metaphysics to the somantic, so as to sabotage conservative fundamentalisms and to establish the terms for an argument with enthusiasts of transhumanism. Moreover, this study will suggest that theoretic systems, cultural messages, and sociopolitical speech-acts inattentive to the condition of embodiment—whether that of their agents, interlocutors, or material mediums of expression— must then seem at once suspicious, maladaptive to the sense contingencies of the moment, and deserving of somantic reduction. In correcting these faults, it will also resist systematizing or universalizing sense-experience; it will function rather as a corpus of maps that rechart the volatile, moment-to-moment interimplication of the somatic and the symbolic. Thus this study takes axiomatically Frederic Jameson’s claim that intertextuality replaces history in the era of transnational capital, seeing in this argument the strategic advantage of taking a theoretic standpoint against diachronic modalities of time. Arguing for the reconstruction of certain narratives as distortions, if not outright falsifications, of the simultaneation of needs, impressions, and changes in a subject’s sense-experience, this study will redirect attention to the relation of certain discourses to the bodies of their interlocutors.

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