Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Brian Deyo

Second Advisor

Kurt Bullock

Third Advisor

David Alvarez

Academic Year



Since the publication of J. M. Coetzee’s first post-apartheid novel, Disgrace, a number of scholars have noted the ways that this text encourages its readers to re-think their understanding of law. Many other scholars have also noted the ways that Disgrace explores the ideas of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. However, up until this point, there has been no analysis written that considers the legal explorations of Disgrace alongside the legal philosophies of Deleuze, and in this thesis, precisely such an analysis will be offered.

By considering these two bodies of work in light of one another, it will be shown that Disgrace encourages its readers to re-think their understanding of law through the use of violent and visceral encounters. By analyzing these disruptions, the thesis will argue that both Disgrace and Deleuze’s philosophical works encourage readers to think of law differently in three fundamental ways. First, they both move their readers away from an understanding of law as sets of rules and procedures, and they both move readers toward an understanding of law as on ongoing process of jurisprudence. Second, they both reject an image of law that is rooted in transcendental ideals and values, and they both emphasize instead an image of law that is grounded in imminent realities. And finally, they both encourage their readers to rethink their understanding of the subject, displacing the idea of the autonomous, rational, individualistic subject with the idea of an embodied, fluid, and interconnected subject.

Through these explorations, the law will be interrogated and re-conceptualized as a regulating force, one that influences the interactions taking place between different assemblages within a given society and, and it will also be reconsidered in its role as a unique manifestation of power, one that simultaneously emerges from social discourse and that functions as a particularly potent form of discourse itself.