Deleuze Becoming-Mary Poppins: Re-Imagining the Concept of Becoming-Woman and Its Potential for Challenging Current Notions of Parenting, Gender and Childhood

Donna Carlyle*, Kay Sidebottom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

In this paper, we consider the major and controversial lexicon of Deleuze’s ‘becoming-woman’ and what an alternative re-working of this concept might look like through the story of Mary Poppins. In playfully exploring the many interesting aspects of Travers’ character, with her classic tale about the vagaries of parenting, we attempt to highlight how reading Mary Poppins through the Deleuzian lens of ‘becoming-woman’ opens up possibilities, not limitations, in terms of feminist perspectives. In initially resisting the ‘Disneyfication’ of Mary Poppins, Travers offered insights and opportunities which we revisit and consider in terms of how this fictional character can significantly disrupt ideas of gender performativity. We endeavour to accentuate how one of its themes not only dismantles the patriarchy in 1910 but also has significant traction in the twenty- first century. We also put forth the idea of Mary Poppins as an icon of post-humanism, a nomadic war machine, with her robotic caring, magic powers and literal flights of fancy, to argue how she ironically holds the dual position of representing the professionalisation of parenting and the need to move beyond a Dionysian view of children as in need of control and regulation, as well as that of nurturer and emancipator. Indeed, in her many contradictions, we suggest a nomadic Mary Poppins can offer a route into the ideas of Deleuze and his view of children as de-territorialising forces and activators of change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113
Number of pages13
JournalHumanities
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021

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