Thesis Title

The Ideal Subject: Power, Discipline, And Technologies Of The Self In American Psycho

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006

Degree

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Committee Chair

William Burling

Keywords

panopticon, technologies of the self, discipline, American Psycho, Foucault

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature

Abstract

This thesis examines the influences of social expectation on individual personality by applying Michel Foucault’s theory of disciplinary power to the character of Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, American Psycho. The techniques of hierarchical surveillance, normalizing judgment, and technologies of the self develop Bateman into a consumer/producer to fulfill the needs of a capitalistic society. Relentlessly drilled in disciplinary techniques, Bateman adopts social norms and values and unconsciously aligns his personal goals with social goals. Furthermore, he violently and hatefully enforces these social expectations on others, which suggests that violence and hate are condoned---and even encouraged--- in American society. As a socially-developed individual, Bateman exemplifies the powerful---but often unrecognized---social influences on all individuals and reflects the ruthless, dehumanizing nature of capitalist societies.

Copyright

© Brian Lipscomb

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