Untangling Eros from Logos

Open Access
Author:
Murphy, Kelly
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Faculty Reader
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • deconstruction
  • performative utterance
  • performative gender
  • eros
  • language
Abstract:
My honors thesis project, Untangling Eros from Logos, began with the objective of determining whether sexuality could be divorced from language from the standpoint of Jacques Derrida and his understanding of deconstruction. The most relevant thinkers on the topics of language or linguistics and sexuality or gender and, in some cases, on an integration of both topics are incorporated into Section I to aid in analysis of the question at hand. These include J.L. Austin’s How to do Things with Words, Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye and Visions of Excess, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Hélène Cixous’ The Newly Born Woman, Jacques Derrida’s Acts of Literature, Limited, Inc., The Post Card, and Writing and Difference, Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, Niall Lucy’s A Derrida Dictionary, and John Searle’s article, “Reiterating Differences: A Reply to Derrida.” Section I concludes that eros is wholly entrapped by logos, and thus Section II is an effort to provide a more hopeful potential world when faced with this condition. While sexuality and language are inextricable, the main focus should be their own agency as performative entities. To give the inquiry of the project a less abstract feel, Section III works with Austin’s theory of performative utterance and Butler’s theory of performative gender in the context of British author Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve. This novel arises from the tradition of magical realism, constructing a multiplicity of fictive worlds ideal for observation of modes of sexual experience. The paper also points to a need for sexuality to be examined as its own entity beyond the limitations of language, particularly a phallocentric discourse, and concludes with a challenge to exercise performativity as a way of owning one’s individual erotic existence.