Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media - Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts


This thesis provides a model for reading and analysing digital poetry through the application of principles derived from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's concept of the rhizome. Drawing on the model provided in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, I focus on the key properties of rhizomatic systems that can he identified both in poetic forms and in digital information, and offer both a theoretical foundation for a model of rhizomatic analysis and a number of case studies in which this approach is applied.

By establishing clear connections between rhizomatic structures and the characteristics of poetic Language and electronic data, this thesis provides an investigation of some possible applications of a literary rhizoanalysis and the establishment of 'rhizopoetics', which encompasses both rhizomatic creative texts and critical works that, themselves, become rhizomatic through the process of analysis, The first half of the thesis is focused on establishing the general foundations for understanding contemporary poetry and poetics, electronic literature, and Deleuze and Guattari’s principles of rhizomatic assemblages, and on setting up the intersections between these three fields. The second half provides applications of the rhizopoetic model for textual analysis by focusing specifically on techniques of self-publication, virtual selfhood, and asignifying language rupture. These principles are examined in relation to the online works of Australian poets Mez Breeze, Adam Ford, Derek Motion, and David Prater, drawing on a diverse range of material from each of these authors. Given the rhizomatic emphasis on heterogeneity and multiplicity, these latter chapters combine a variety of critical practices such as close reading, biographicaL study, media specificity, and use of interview data, as well as dealing with a wide range of textual forms, including poetry published both in print and onLine, blog entries (induding poem drafts, finished works, informal commentary, and short-form academic pieces), and interview responses.

This thesis provides the initial foundations for establishing a rhizopoetic approach to literature, both in digital form and in print. The intersections between poetic language, digital information, and rhizomatic theory, particularly the emphasis on process and on the examination of complex systems beyond established hierarchical and logic-based models, provide a rich seeding ground for new readings and interpretations of electronic text forms that might otherwise be overlooked.