Deleuze, Guattari, and Global Ecologies of Language Learning

by Joff P.N. Bradley (Author) David R. Cole (Author)
©2023 Textbook XVIII, 268 Pages


This book is a selection of writings on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s philosophy and its connection with language learning. The authors are global experts in the field of language learning and schizoanalysis and have been collaborating on projects concerning Deleuze and Guattari for over two decades. They are the only scholars who have consistently applied Deleuze and Guattari to language learning. In addition to lecturing and co-writing on this topic, they have been working on projects concerning social ecology and the Anthropocene across the globe. This book attempts to put their multifaceted writings on language learning and teaching into systematic order.
Bradley and Cole offer a thoughtful and timely look at the intersections between the abstraction of philosophical theory and the pragmatic reality of language learning. As such, this book introduces the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari and its use in the field of language learning in the tertiary education sector and elsewhere.The authors demonstrate how Deleuze and Guattari inform language learning and teaching in creative, unpredictable, and sometimes rupturing ways. The book introduces empirical research from Australia, Canada, the United States, and Japan that combines Deleuze's thought, literacies and multiliteracies theory to explain how students frequently have breakthroughs but, more often than not, have breakdowns in language learning. This book argues that the Deleuze and Guattari philosophical approach endeavours to understand the relationships between literacy, the literary, and literature use, and it extends multiliteracies into the multiple literacies theory of affect to develop an understanding of the complexities of learning – its breakdowns and hopefully its breakthroughs.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Permissions
  • Foreword by Mark Featherstone
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One Ecological Crisis and Global Language Learning
  • Materialisms
  • Chapter Two On the Materiality of Thixotropic Slogans
  • Chapter Three Materialism and the Mediating Third
  • Chapter Four Affective Literacies: Deleuze, Discipline, and Power
  • Multiplicities
  • Chapter Five On Multiple Literacies and Language Learning: Video Production and Embodied Subjectivities
  • Chapter Six From Which Point Do We Begin?: On Combining the Multiliteral and Multiperspectival
  • Becoming
  • Chapter Seven Japanese English Learners on the Edge of Chaosmos: Félix Guattari and Becoming-Otaku
  • Chapter Eight Becoming-Literature: Deleuze and the Craquelure
  • Chapter Nine Latino Families Becoming-Literate in Australia: Deleuze, Literacy and the Politics of Immigration
  • Pedagogy
  • Chapter Ten On Conjuring the Pea-and-Thimble Trick
  • Chapter Eleven Woe Betide You the Truth Be Told: Linguistic Corruption as a Pedagogical Tool
  • Chapter Twelve The Power of Emotional Factors in English Teaching
  • Globalisation
  • Chapter Thirteen Deleuze and Globlish: Imperial Tongues, Faceless Coins, War Machines
  • Chapter Fourteen Reading in the Future: Literacy and the Time of the Internet
  • Chapter Fifteen Deleuze and Narrative Investigation: the Multiple Literacies of Sudanese Families in Australia
  • Index


It was David R. Cole who got me (Joff P. N. Bradley) back into philosophy, who got me back into thinking as such. David remains the world’s leading expert on Deleuze studies in the field of education. It was he who nearly 14 years ago told me that I should start writing. Before that I had been teaching a great deal but without a critical voice, all the while observing and cataloguing the everyday problems that I saw in myself, my students, my colleagues, and the commuters on the busy trains in Tokyo, but without a means to express my views and indeed any opposition to the way of the world. In frank discussions David said those societal problems were normalized under Japanese capitalism and I too was part of the problem. He suggested I give philosophical expression to my frustrations, resistance and skepticism towards the way that others organize education. It is for this personal reason, and while perhaps odd as one of the co-writers of this book, that I dedicate the book to him.


We would like to thank the following journals, institutions and publishers for the permission to republish our sole and joint works.

Joff P. N. Bradley wishes to thank

Toyo University’s Dialogos journal for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N. (2012). On the materiality of thixotropic slogans. Dialogos, (12), 71–100;

Taylor & Francis for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N. (2012). Materialism and the mediating third. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(8), 892–903;

The Liberlit Journal of Teaching Literature for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N. (2015). Becoming-literature: Deleuze and the Craquelure. Lit Matters–The Liberlit Journal of Teaching Literature, 1(2), 79–11

Micronesian Educator for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N. (2021). Woe Betide You the Truth Be Told: Linguistic Corruption as Pedagogical Tool. Micronesian Educator# 30, 84

Brill for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N. (2019). Deleuze and Globish: Imperial Tongues, Faceless Coins, War Machines. In Deterritorializing Language, Teaching, Learning, and Research (pp. 87–109).

Bradley and Cole wish to thank the University of Singapore for permission to republish On Multiple Literacies and Language Learning: Video Production and Embodied Subjectivities which appeared in NUS CELC 5th Symposium Proceedings;

The Society for Teaching English through Media (STEM) in Korea for permission to republish Bradley, J. P. N., Cabell, C., Cole, D. R., Kennedy, D. H., & Poje, J. (2018). From which point do we begin?: on combining the multiliteral and multiperspectival. Stem Journal, 65–93;

Addleton and Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations for permission to republish Cole, D. R., & Bradley, J. P. N. (2014). Japanese English learners on the edge of’chaosmos’: Félix Guattari and “becoming-otaku”. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 13, 83;

Journal of Engaged Pedagogy in Japan for permission to republish Cole, D. R., & Bradley, J. P. N. (2014). On conjuring the pea-and-thimble trick. Journal of Engaged Pedagogy, 1–9.

David R. Cole wishes to thank Edinburgh University Press for permission to republish Cole, D. R. (2013). Affective literacies: Deleuze, discipline and power. Deleuze and education, 94–112;

Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education for permission to republish Cole, D. R. (2012). Latino families becoming-literate in Australia: Deleuze, literacy and the politics of immigration. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 33(1), 33–46;

Power and Education for permission to republish Cole, D. R. (2009). The power of emotional factors in English teaching. Power and Education, 1(1), 57–70;

Reconstruction for permission to republish Cole, D. R. (2005). Reading in the future: Literacy in the time of the internet. Reconstruction, 5(2);

Wiley for permission to republish Cole, D. R. (2013). Deleuze and narrative investigation: The multiple literacies of Sudanese families in Australia. Literacy, 47(1), 35–41.


mark featherstone

In an age marked by the globalitarian power of digital code, the ways in which we communicate, speak, write, express our singular relations to the world, and bridge our social, political, and cultural differences, has become key political questions. In exploring the borderline space between a kind of absolute global indifference characterized by universal code and the hyper-local difference of a model of tribal communication that easily lapses into paranoid nationalism, Bradley and Cole’s book interrogates the crux of the problem of troublesome self-other communication by reading the theory and practice of language learning through the work of the radical French thinkers, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Writing from the 1960s through the 1980s, Deleuze and Guattari famously challenged authoritarian forms of repressive psycho-power and their oppressive material social, political, and economic expressions in the name of an alternative vision of subjectivity and collective formation characterized by desire, creativity, and freedom. Following the lead of Deleuze and Guattari, who essentially located the problem of domination in the ways in which we are coded by processes of Oedipal socialisation, Bradley and Cole explore the politics of language learning in terms of the contrast between major psycho-linguistic structures established in early childhood and beyond that screen culture in all its forms, and the possibility of minor or minority forms of communication capable of expressing desire, difference, creativity, freedom, and the imagination to think otherwise through their subversive and transformative interaction with the major form.

Readers of Deleuze and Guattari’s work will remember that it is precisely this interaction that they explore in their book on Kafka, where the (con)fusion of Czech, Yiddish, and German produces ruptures in the majoritarian linguistic form. Before Deleuze and Guattari, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, similarly explored the possibility of escape from dominant socio-symbolic systems in his study of Daniel Paul Schreber. In the case of Schreber, the psychotic judge reacted to his over-determination by the law of the father and the law of the land by inventing his own way of talking, writing, and understanding the world. On the edge of the modern technological age, Schreber’s new psychotic reality was characterized by a tangle of wires, rays of light, and strange writing machines that plugged him straight into the mind of God. Echoing Schreber, Kafka and Joyce, who we remember also invented his own minor cybernetic language for the coming electronic age in his famously unreadable Finnegans Wake, the key point of Bradley and Cole’s work is that we must challenge the majoritarian, behaviourist model of language passed down by the tech giants and others who believe in the pure instrumentality of communication, command, and control. In the world of GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) corporations, which Bernard Stiegler writes about in terms of the four horsemen of the digital apocalypse, the internet is no longer a place of symbolic exploration, creativity, and invention, but rather a space of algorithmic governmentality where every form of communication is primarily understood in economic terms concerned with the need to produce some form of monetary gain.

Against this basic calculative utilitarianism, which threatens to translate our rich, symbolic worlds into a bland computational (un)world, Bradley and Cole turn to the theory of multiple literacies (MLT, multiple literacy theory), which they suggest has the potential to trouble, derange, estrange, or alienate our situation caught in a globalitarian, communicative system that in turn makes it seem impossible to escape our current thanatological trajectory that is playing out the dark destiny of the Anthropocene. In this regard, the stakes of Bradley and Cole’s project are high. Indeed, they could not be higher. In their view learning and teaching language pitches students and tutors straight into what might turn out to be a life and death struggle between behaviour and creativity, intelligence and systemic stupidity, and thoughtless repetition and the possibility of new worlds conceived in the encounter with languages that are never finished, consistent, or self-identical, but rather endlessly dynamic, relational, and open to interpretation, reinterpretation, translation, mis-translation, and re-imagining. Akin to Schreber, Kafka, and Joyce, whose experiments with language led to new ways of thinking about self and world, Bradley and Cole remind us that learning language is a transformative experience. We cannot learn a new language, whether this is a new national tongue or a new regional dialectic, without encountering the other and the other in the self who poses the question—“who am I now?” In this context the Lacanian imaginary, the self-identical “I” which we develop when we look into the mirror and say “that’s me”, explodes and we lose our sense of certainty before a new understanding of the wide open spaces and possibilities of language that is no longer simply about the word / world of the father who came before, but also the strange, alien universe of the other who comes from somewhere else and opens up new horizons. Beyond the programmatic order words that translate language into a system that then defines reality in systemic terms that in turn transforms people into docile bodies set upon conformity, Bradley and Cole want us to creatively explore language. In their reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s work, this creativity emerges from the productive unconscious that is no longer a store house for ghosts, ghouls, and other monstrous representatives of traumatic memories from the past, but rather a machine that floods language with creative potential and the ability to imagine new worlds and new futures.

In the contemporary world we might think about the opposition between this creative philosophy of language on the one hand and computer science, on the other, which exerts continuous control over communication for the sake of the eradication of the noise that breathes life into expression and the imagination. Thus, Bradley and Cole point out, in a manner which recalls Freud’s joke book, that we should not seek to overcome noise. On the contrary, slips, stammers, stutters, mistakes, and mistranslations in the study of language must not be eliminated in the name of linguistic perfection, because they are the very life blood of communication itself. As Freud explained in his work on the joke, and then Deleuze and Guattari later outlined in their study of Kafka, it is precisely the gaps, breaks, and holes in expression that enable the new to emerge in between, and on the borderline, between this, that, and the other language. Building upon Deleuze and Guattari’s reading of the schizophrenia of capitalism that is always undermining and working against the logic of territorialisation, Bradley and Cole take the view that noise is always productive, a sign of the rude health of language that is always running away with itself and that cannot be contained by computational code regardless of what the engineers and neoliberals want to believe. The truth is, then, that our hyper-mediated world saturated with language is defined by a state of unmooring, disembedding, and drift. There is no once and for all language, no pure symbolic system free of noise, that we can know in its entirety. Instead, we are always learning language, we are always translating, reaching towards the other, and having to come terms with uncertainty in meaning. Against this backdrop, we must conclude that the disciplinary vision of the school, where language is about instilling the kind of management of mind and body that Michel Foucault associated with all kinds of institutions, is fighting a losing battle. It is forever on the backfoot and will never be able to discipline language and eradicate the noise that characterizes communication in all its forms.

However, we know that such uncertainty about meaning can cause anxiety about otherness and our place in the world. For this reason, Bradley and Cole suggest the importance of scaffolding language learning in order to provide a level of security for students pitched into the chaotic sea of a new symbolic system. In this regard, the purpose of the psychoanalytic partial or transitional object is to simultaneously provide students with an object of desire and a sense of security to support their explorations. This psychological object, because it is important to recognize that this is not necessarily an object in the material sense of the term, might represent a vision of a future in another culture or another world, a fantasy of what life might be like, capable of transforming the classroom into a space of desire, hope, and the possibility of the new. Of course, the challenge of creating and defending this psychological object is that the contemporary education system resembles a knowledge factory, marked by neoliberal metrics, bureaucracy, and cybernetic channels of command and control that treat language in purely instrumental terms, more than an experimental space concerned with imagination, creativity, and becoming. The two models of learning and understanding language could not be further apart, but, for Bradley and Cole, they represent the key coordinates of the politics of contemporary language learning. Against the cybernetic view of language learning, where communication is about inputting information in the name of the output of monetary gain, Bradley and Cole challenge us to recognize the multiple perspectives disclosed by diverse languages, because it is only by understanding this multiplicity that we will be able to capture what it means to exist and be in the world and communicate this to others in ways that are never complete, but only ever partially coherent on the edge of chaos.

Given the state of our world, wracked by war, economic chaos, and potentially apocalyptic climate change, I think Bradley and Cole’s key contribution is that we cannot see language as a computational system, because there is simply too much uncertainty in our world, but rather we must think about it in terms of an endless project concerned with making sense. In this context, lifelong learning is not the necessary disposition of the student who has to be prepared to constantly adapt to the vicissitudes of the market caught in ceaseless creative destruction, but rather about what it means to constantly strive to make sense with others in a community of significance essential to getting to grips with a hyper-complex world slipping into a state of chaos. The difference here is one of focus. Is language learning about ensuring seamless communication in the name of improving profit margins or is it about making sense in order to get a grip on the problems of the world? What we now know is that the imperial tongue of neo-liberal capitalism has no answers to the chaos currently enveloping our world. In respect of this ways in which the globalization of the Anglo-American system has led to the globalization of the English language, Bradley and Cole are clear that multiple language learning is essential today, if we are to escape the coming horror of the Anthropocene. We have to develop new ways of talking, new ways of writing, and new ways of thinking if we are to escape the fate set by the Anglo-American model. Ironically, Bradley and Cole suggest hope for the future in the very extremism of this mono-linguistic model that is in the process of exhausting itself in its over-reach. In referring to the globalitarianism of English, they consider the phenomenon of Globish, which is simultaneously universal in its expansion, but also strangely vernacular, empty, and beyond identity. In many respects, then, Globish is English in the process of emptying out a model of meaning that we also find in the writings of Schreber and Joyce, that is, the kind of becoming psychotic of language which is necessary to carve out a space for the new in the globalised techno machina mundi.


XVIII, 268
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (July)
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s philosophy Writings on language learning and teaching Relationships between literacy, the literary, and literature use David R. Cole Deleuze Guattari schizoanalysis desire language literature literacy English Deleuze, Guattari and Global Ecologies of Learning Joff P.N. Bradley
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Chennai, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XVIII, 268 pp.

Biographical notes

Joff P.N. Bradley (Author) David R. Cole (Author)

Joff P. N. Bradley is a professor working at Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan. He was visiting professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and visiting fellow at Kyung Hee University, Seoul. Joff has co-written A Pedagogy of Cinema and coedited books on Deleuze and Buddhism; utopia; new French thought; transversality; Japanese education; Stiegler; and animation. His forthcoming books will focus on (1) schizoanalysis and postmedia and (2) schizoanalysis and Asia. David R. Cole is Associate Professor in Education at Western Sydney University, Australia, and the founder of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research into the Anthropocene: https://iiraorg.com/. He is a philosopher of education and author of fifteen books and more than one hundred significant publications. He believes that the problematics of the Anthropocene can only be approached through collective practice and thought. His latest book is Education, the Anthropocene, and Deleuze/Guattari.


Title: Deleuze, Guattari, and Global Ecologies of Language Learning
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
288 pages