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Disciplinary Power, Surveillance, and the Docile Body in Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea

Hasanain Riyadh Abdulzahra, Zainor Izat Zainal, Mohamed Ewan Awang and Hardev Kaur Jujar Singh

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.4.31

Keywords: Disciplinary power, docile body, Ella Minnow Pea , Foucault, surveillance

Published on: 13 December 2021

Power in contemporary society is a prominent feature in literary works, especially in postmodernist literary works. Mark Dunn is an American novelist who deals with the subject of power prominently in his works, especially his first novel Ella Minnow Pea (2001). While previous studies on Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea focused on aspects of violence, sexuality, and psychological aspects of power, this study concentrates on disciplinary aspects of power, such as surveillance, which is used to subjugate subjects without the use of violence to transform them into productive, docile bodies. The study explores Ella Minnow Pea through Foucault’s concept of disciplinary power, surveillance, and docile body. In Foucault’s view, disciplinary power is used as a conversion method to force individuals into submission to authority characterised by conformity and obedience, or docility. The study examines power manipulation, disciplinary practices, and the effectiveness of surveillance as methods for converting people into productive docile bodies and how the novel achieved this result. In addition, it delves into the characters’ responses in the novel to these machinations, which ultimately reveal that the negative impacts of repressive disciplinary power contrast with the benefits anticipated by the authoritarian state. This study provides a valuable insight on the use of Foucauldian concepts in literary criticism as the concepts chosen for this analysis have not previously been applied to this text.

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ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

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