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“What drives your own desiring machines?” Early twenty-first century corporatism in Deleuze-Guattarian theory, corporate practice, contemporary literature, and locavore alternatives Open Access


Other title
corporate culture
creative critique
corporate subject
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
corporate story
William Gibson
Scarlett Thomas
Hudson’s Bay Company
Margaret Atwood
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Talpalaru, Margrit
Supervisor and department
Zwicker, Heather (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Simpson, Mark (English and Film Studies)
Medovoi, Leerom (Portland State University, English)
Wallin, Jason (Secondary Education)
Kellogg, Catherine (Political Science)
Department of English and Film Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation identifies and investigates the characteristics of the early 21st-century social, economic, and political situation as intrinsically connected and grouped under the concept of corporatism. Starting from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s schizoanalysis of capitalism, this thesis argues that corporatism or corporate capitalism is immanent: an interconnected, networked, rhizomatic system that has been successful at overtaking biopower – life in all its forms, human and otherwise – and managing it, or even making it its business. Methodologically, this dissertation aims to move beyond negative into creative critique, whose role is the uncovering of imagined or real alternatives to the problems of corporatism. Consequently, this dissertation is divided into four chapters that attempt to bring this methodology to life. Chapter 1 presents the theoretical basis of corporatism, modeled on the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Chapter 2 begins to exemplify corporatism by investigating three corporate examples. This chapter sheds light on the real-life functioning of three corporations, Hudson’s Bay Company, Walmart, and Unilever, while also connecting them to the theoretical genealogy of human social systems described by Deleuze and Guattari. Chapter 3 turns to literature as both a diagnostician of the contemporary corporatism, as well as an imaginative solution-provider. While not instrumentalizing literature, this chapter rather looks to three novels for both descriptions of the corporatist social machine and prescriptions on how to attempt to change it. The novels featured in this chapter are aligned with the creative critique methodology: from the negative and even reactionary critique of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, through the problems with the contemporary episteme illustrated by Margaret Atwood’s dystopic Oryx and Crake, to the alternative outlined by Scarlett Thomas in PopCo. Chapter 4 investigates real-life experiments in order to assess their viability in altering the present conditions of life. To this end, the last chapter couples theoretical Deleuze-Guattarian alternatives with two locavore books: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, and The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.
License granted by Margrit Talpalaru ( on 2011-01-25T20:04:39Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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