Event Title

The Death of the Self and Agency

Presenter Information

Heather Norwood

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Major

English

Category

Humanities and Letters

Session Number

13

Location

RM 217

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Mary Boland

Juror Names

Elizabeth Martin

Start Date

5-16-2019 5:10 PM

End Date

5-16-2019 5:30 PM

Abstract

Postmodern theory, specifically the death of the agent, naturally troubles concepts of agency, and has drawn the attention of scholars within English Composition. These scholars have worked their way around the need for an agent in various ways however, I would argue that underneath the surface, postmodern theory is making an argument for the death of the self and that these scholars are likewise attempting to come to terms with this. To explore the death of the self, I have delved into postmodern theorists like Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, revealing the areas in their work that most clearly make the argument. To test the argument, and the theory that arises from it, I believe a cross-disciplinary approach that takes into consideration the newest thoughts about the self offered by evolutionary and experimental psychology is the most effective way to work towards a theory of agency that is both valid and allows for things like meaningful writing projects and social change. As a result of this approach, it appears that the seat of the self is in the unconscious mind, and the death of the self is valid conceptually as we come to realize that the humanist version of the self which is centered in the conscious I, is not congruent with how we know the mind works. With this new knowledge of the self, it is possible to reconceptualize agency in a way that recognizes the agency we all already have and empowers students all at once.

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May 16th, 5:10 PM May 16th, 5:30 PM

The Death of the Self and Agency

RM 217

Postmodern theory, specifically the death of the agent, naturally troubles concepts of agency, and has drawn the attention of scholars within English Composition. These scholars have worked their way around the need for an agent in various ways however, I would argue that underneath the surface, postmodern theory is making an argument for the death of the self and that these scholars are likewise attempting to come to terms with this. To explore the death of the self, I have delved into postmodern theorists like Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, revealing the areas in their work that most clearly make the argument. To test the argument, and the theory that arises from it, I believe a cross-disciplinary approach that takes into consideration the newest thoughts about the self offered by evolutionary and experimental psychology is the most effective way to work towards a theory of agency that is both valid and allows for things like meaningful writing projects and social change. As a result of this approach, it appears that the seat of the self is in the unconscious mind, and the death of the self is valid conceptually as we come to realize that the humanist version of the self which is centered in the conscious I, is not congruent with how we know the mind works. With this new knowledge of the self, it is possible to reconceptualize agency in a way that recognizes the agency we all already have and empowers students all at once.