Rhizomatic Reading

Developing and moderating a communal digital space to read Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus.

Project team

  • Project Director

  • Daniela Gandorfer
  • Nica Siegal
  • Technical Lead

  • Daniela Gandorfer
  • Project Manager

  • Daniela Gandorfer
  • Nica Siegal
Rhizomatic Reading

“Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come.” [1] If we take Deleuze’s and Guattari’s claim seriously, if we commit to be loyal to their text, how are we supposed to read that which has not be written? How should we as readers take this paradoxical restatement of the work of writing; what does it demand from us and what forms and modes of participation might it allow? And what does it mean that the proposal was indeed written, published and circulated in a book format? Might it mean this: only recently, with the invention of new digital modes of reading, has it become possible to engage with this text on its own terms, that is to say rhizomatically [2] ?

A book – Deleuze and Guattari write - is an assemblage, “and as such is unattributable. It is a multiplicity—but we don't know yet what the multiple entails when it is no longer attributed, that is, after it has been elevated to the status of a substantive.“[3] Rooted in Deleuze and Guattari’s 1987 text A Thousand Plateaus there is already the invitation, even the mandate, to read the text beyond its manifest literary form. We propose therefore, starting in Spring of 2017, to develop and moderate a communal digital space to read the text in a format and under conditions that were not possible in 1987 but which, thanks to developments in the digital humanities, will allow us to perform the literary assemblage [4] in its multiplicity of forms, formats, and formations.

Building on recent efforts to open creative digital spaces for communal reading and using the Drupal-based Lacuna Stories platform – an open source, online learning tool designed to create new possibilities for reading and learning collaboratively – we will develop a digital platform to read a Thousand Plateaus digitally and, as we claim, rhizomatically.

We expect that our platform will offer participants the chance to contribute marginalia, images, audio recordings, and video clips, as well as longer pieces of writing, and to share their work on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Our participants will come from many institutions, time zones, demographics, backgrounds, and locales. Because of our commitment to the diversity of participants, we also look forward to developing a fully accessible platform, bringing in best practices of user-centered design, including transcription and other alternative input technologies. Finally, we propose to host guest speakers-scholars, artists, musicians, activists-to offer their ideas both in writing and through video.

Ultimately, we expect to collect a heterogeneous assemblage of materials and will maintain an anthology digitally, but we’re also eager to consider other mediums of dissemination when the time comes, including print.

The project is a collaboration between the Princeton CDH, Yale Digital Humanities Lab, and receives great support from the developers and designers of Lacuna Stories at Stanford University.


[1] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 4-5

[2] Ibid 3-25

[3] Ibid 4

[4] Ibid.

CDH Grant History

  • 2016–2017 Sponsored Project