Publication Date

April 2016


Jesse Torgerson


College of Letters


English (United States)


Despite the fascination surrounding Occupy Wall Street, much of the literature describing this movement is marred by confusion and uncertainty, leading to unsatisfying explanations of the cause of Occupy’s dissolution. This project clarifies Occupy’s failure through the application of Giorgio Agamben’s theory on the “state of exception” and his depiction of the Franciscan “form of life.” This project first uncovers that Agamben’s “state of exception” signifies a suspension of juridical norms that blurs the distinction between life and law. Then, this project proposes that “form of life” signifies the realization of life outside of the determinations of law. By conceptualizing the Franciscan “form of life” as an absolute “state of exception,” this project demonstrates the Franciscans’ attempt to reject the legal norms of ownership. This project then utilizes Agamben’s depiction of the Franciscans as model for analyzing Occupy. Through this application of Agamben’s theory, this project posits that Occupy attempted to oppose plutocratic political norms but ultimately compromised this opposition by redefining itself within the political establishment. In conclusion, this project arrives at a compelling understanding of Occupy Wall Street and its failure.



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