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Abductions: Critical Posthuman Literacies and Lines

Sat, April 29, 2:45 to 4:15pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Floor: Meeting Room Level, Room 221 C


Objectives and Purposes: Ours is a visual-verbal exploration of Deleuze-Guattarian (1987) lines as they create something new in the in-between spaces of pedagogical assemblages that form around the reading of literature. Specifically, we theorize and explore some lines of flight as abductions which have implications for critical posthuman literacies. Our poster will move from more language-focused representation toward more abstract visual expression designed to invite abductions in the midst of the session.

Theoretical Framework: We ground our scholarship primarily in the works Deleuze and Guattari (Deleuze, 1997; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) who theorize that both Life and literature are made up of three kinds of lines or forces: molar, molecular, and flight. Molar lines are rigid and tend to move along an established pattern; molecular lines show a degree of straying from the rutted path; and lines of flight flee the scene altogether (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). We describe all of these lines, but then focus upon lines of flight as abductions that have epistemo-onto-ethico implications for literacy education and beyond.

Modes of Inquiry: We ask: What makes these abductions possible? What capacity do they have to produce social activism in the world? We approach this poster from a “new empiricism” angle, that is, from transcendental empiricism, which seeks to engage with things “in the middle” and in all their complexity. Deleuze and Parnet (2007) urge us to trace a line of flight in our inquiry by eschewing the doctrines of old empiricisms and forcing thought to think what may seem alien or even “repugnant” (p. 57). Our focus on affect within literature events aims to make reportable what can only be observed through the traces it leaves behind but is actually only lived within unfolding events (Deleuze, 1997).

Context, Materials, Analysis: Our inquiry was set in a university-level Young Adult Literature class for pre-service English teachers and focused on LGBTQ text reading. We audiotaped all class sessions, journaled, and collected student artwork and other class artifacts. When our initial analyses weren’t adequately explaining a surprising event produced in this pedagogical assemblage, we moved to a new empiricism model, which overturned most traditional ideas of qualitative research (St. Pierre, 2016). We went back through “the data,” with our eyes opened to wonder (MacLure, 2013), particularly to the operation of lines within the assemblage.

Outcomes: We found that in decentering the human subject and focusing instead on the pedagogical assemblage and events that unfolded, we were able see how the careful curating of our course spaces invited abductions to take place. We will show in this poster the cascading effects of one literary abduction that produced multiple spaces that were more welcoming to the LGBTQ community.

Scholarly Significance: This inquiry demonstrates:
1) The importance of carefully curating pedagogical assemblages;
2) The significance of affect in pedagogical events;
3) How literature and other arts make abductions as lines of flight possible;
4) How affect can work toward social justice-oriented, activism projects.