The Problem of the Media in Deleuze & Guattari

Mediation, representation, form, meaning, communication: these terms, and perhaps a handful of others, comprise a conceptual core for (humanistic) media studies.  In the last 50 years or so they have helped to gather disparate researchers together as a field and have facilitated the proliferation of rigorous, politically engaged media scholarship.  Inasmuch as these concepts have proven useful both institutionally and analytically, however, their givenness has gone more or less unquestioned  The rapidly shifting media landscape and the emergence of new modes of thought suggest that the time has come to asses the capabilities and limitations of these concepts and, as necessary, to imagine how to do media studies otherwise.

The individual and collaborative writings of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and Félix Guattari (1930-1992) provide a powerful frame of reference for beginning this inquiry.  Their philosophy consists in part of a sustained critique of forms of mediation, logics of representation, and structures of signification, which in turn opens up a host of urgent questions to which media researchers ought to be responding: other than signifying, what do media do? what’s at stake in conceiving of mediated sounds, words, and images not as representations but as original presentations in their own right? is the primary function of media to communicate, and if not, what then is their main purpose? what would it mean to study “media” without presuming that they indeed mediate?  This class explores these and other questions about the future of media studies through an intensive engagement with key writings by Deleuze and Guattari and those of media scholars whose research has been inspired by their work.