Dorothy Kahn, Man as the Palace of Industry

Deleuze and Guattari: Anti-Oedipus

Instructor: Jeffrey Escoffier
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Among the most influential, provocative, and controversial philosophical works of the 20th century, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia took up the question first posed by Baruch Spinoza: “Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?” For Deleuze and Guattari, finding the answer requires a wholescale reevaluation of psychoanalysis and Marxism. On the one hand, orthodox Marxism offers a brilliant analyses of social relations and processes in the modern world, but lacks a true account of psychology or interiority. On the other hand, psychoanalysis offers insights into interior worlds, but in ways that fall short of both society and history. In part a response to the demonstrations and strikes that took place in France in May of 1968, Anti-Oedipus offers a radical analysis of capitalism that synthesizes political economy and psychology anew. This “schizoanalysis” jettisons a host of prevailing assumptions and crafts in their place new or adapted theoretical concepts now familiar in contemporary social theoretical discourse, like the-body-without-organs, rhizomes and the rhizomatic, desiring-machines, and deterritorialization and reterritorialization, among many others. Anti-Oedipus proposes a politics based on the mobilization of a  “schizoanalytic” unconsciousness: one that is open to everyone, shaped by social and economic forces, and assembled across intersecting flows of desire, “breaks,” and diverse material “fluxes.” In perhaps its ultimate provocation, Anti-Oedipus poses that sexuality is omnipresent, that capitalism has no limits, and that “the revolutionary path” is not to stop either but “to go further, ‘to accelerate the process.’” Why, for Deleuze and Guattari, is desire revolutionary? And how can we understand Anti-Oedipus and its claims today?

In this course we will read extensively from Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus and their related writings in order to answer these questions and come to a precise understanding of a complicated, enigmatic, yet startlingly original text. We will explore how Deleuze and Guattari built on the sexual political analyses of Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse. We will ask: why do Deleuze and Guattari challenge the dominance of psychoanalysis as a framework for thinking about the production of desire and sexuality? How is the Oedipus complex a central mechanism of capitalism? What do these various concepts actually mean? And how can we understand them in the context of the present day? Is Anti-Oedipus a prescient and insightful account of the financialized capitalist system as some later thinkers have suggested? Or is it itself challenged by contemporary realities and theoretical lacunae as others have critiqued?  We will also read texts influenced by Deleuze and Guattari, in the writings of queer theorist Guy Hocqueghem, feminists Theresa Brennan and Rosi Braidotti, political theorist Antonio Negri, and trans theorist Paul Preciado.

Course Schedule

Monday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
March 07 — March 28, 2022
4 weeks


Registration Open

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