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Title: Virtual bodies : technology and embodiment in cyberpunk fiction
Author: Calvert, Bronwen.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis offers a new way of reading narratives of cyberpunk fiction. It undertakes to re-evaluate cyberpunk fiction according to a feminist criticism that takes direction from Donna Haraway's cyborg politics and Eve Sedgwick's "deconstructive" reading. Both cyberpunk fiction and its criticism are read "deconstructively" in order to contest the notion that cyberpunk fiction cannot productively be read for feminism. The representation of embodiment and technology in cyberpunk narratives is customarily read in terms of a Cartesian opposition of body and mind, in which the materiality of female bodies is contrasted with the virtuality of male minds. The feminist analysis in this thesis focuses upon the way in which cyberpunk narratives can be seen to problematise both materiality and virtuality, embodiment and technology. Four novels are examined in detail: William Gibson's Neuromancer, Pat Cadigan's Synners, Marge Piercy's Body of Glass, and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. In each narrative, conventions of cyberpunk fiction are seen to be subverted and contested. Gibson's novel, which has become accepted as the template of "classic", masculinist cyberpunk fiction, is revealed through this feminist analysis as a narrative which is profoundly ambivalent in its depictions of technologised male and female bodies. This ambivalence continues in the versions of cyberpunk offered by Cadigan, Piercy, and Stephenson. These readings illuminate the way cyberpunk narratives work to deconstruct binary oppositions through their explorations of gendered bodies, technology, virtuality, and disembodiment. The deconstruction, disruption and dismantling of binarisms are conceptualised in the image of the unnaturally embodied cyborg, which unites gendered embodiment and technological augmentation in an imaginary body.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Feminism Literature Mass media Performing arts