Encountering Agency with Decolonial Thought, New Materialism, and The Vegetarian

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Virginia Tech

In this thesis, I bring into conversation two political theoretical frameworks -- decolonial thought and new materialism – with the South Korean novella The Vegetarian. I suggest that the novella, especially through its protagonist, performs a form of agency which calls for a reading that hinges not on the pursuit of definitive analysis but on the recognition of a personal, affective interaction with violent status quo sensibilities. I demonstrate that there exist understandings of agency within decolonial thought and new materialism which could be attuned to this call. I suggest a method that relies upon two thinkers in these frameworks for reading the novella, and after reading the novella through this method and transparently reflecting on my own role in these texts' encounter, I demonstrate that this way of simultaneously reading the novella and the theoretical texts has the capacity to affirm the open and uncertain mutual changes that happen at their encounter.

agency, decoloniality, new materialism, aesthetics