“To Speak Against an Opponent Eloquently Makes You an Unusual Personage”: Joss Whedon as Deleuzian “Minor Writer"

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review

Abstract

No recent television creator, no recent author, has acquired as devoted a cult following as Joss Whedon (Lavery and Burkhead viii). However, Whedon’s position as a cult auteur has been complicated by his integration into Marvel studios via The Avengers (2012) and its sequel Age of Ultron (2015), as well as his recent forays into the DC Extended Universe. In sealing his reputation as a “mainstream” filmmaker, these projects have resulted in tensions as to whether notions of the “Whedonesque” can still exist outside of their cult origins. By means of negotiating such issues, the proposed paper positions Whedon in terms of the “Minor Writer”, a concept developed by poststructuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). In these terms, “Minor” is not simply defined as a literature written from the perspective of an oppressed group, nor is it secondary or neglected writing. Instead, Minor writing takes the language of the dominant culture and warps it to new purposes, thus creating “lines of flight” in terms of creative new trajectories that depart from dominant identities, inventing new forms of collective life, consciousness, and affectivity. To this end, Deleuze defines a Minor Literature through three main characteristics; the deterritorialization of language, the political element, and collective value. In accordance, the paper conceptualizes various elements of Whedon’s oeuvre and his beyond-the-text activities in these terms; for example, Whedon’s creativity with language in Buffy TVS (1997-2003) and Firefly (2002-2003), his social activism and self-declared Feminist agenda (and the recent controversy concerning this), and the nature of his collaborations, both in terms of his alliance with other creative partners, and the manner in which he sees his audience themselves as “immediate partners and collaborators” (Batchelor 169). Deleuze maintains that any work of art “points a way through life, finds a way through the cracks” (Deleuze Negotiations 143), and how Whedon engages with this process is ultimately demonstrated, placing him as a writer who exists “in-between” spaces, hence functioning as an exemplification of the Minor Literature concept that informs Deleuzian literary theory.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransmediating the Whedonverse(s)
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Text, Paratext, and Metatext
EditorsJuliette Kitchens, Julie Hawk
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Chapter7
Pages141-165
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-24616-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-24615-0
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Joss Whedon
  • Minor Writer
  • Oppressed
  • Dominant culture
  • Politics

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