Deleuze’s Perverse Theory of Literature
Jon Roffe (University of New South Wales)

September 20, 2016, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
European Philosophy and the History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI), Deakin University

221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood 3125


  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Deakin University


It is a manifest and yet little-remarked on fact that French thought in the twentieth century involves a marked deference, if not subordination, to the arts on the part of philosophy. The most recent exemplar of this tendency is perhaps Alain Badiou, for whom philosophy can only exist to the extent that it is conditioned by art.

The aim of this paper is to consider an exception to this rule, that provided by Gilles Deleuze. In particular, I would like to consider his 1967 essay on masochism, “Coldness and Cruelty”. After considering his double critique - on psychoanalytic and literary grounds respectively - of what he calls “the sadomasochistic entity,” I would like to show how this account of perversion is also a perverse account of the relationship between theory and literature, philosophy and art. This provides, I will suggest, a very useful heuristic for reading all of Deleuze’s engagements with other writers of all kinds, a first implicit statement of his position that philosophy and art are positioned in a relationship of mutual interference.

Jon Roffe is a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. The author and editor of a number of work on Gilles Deleuze and twentieth century philosophy more generally, his most recent book is Abstract Market Theory (Palgrave 2015).

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