University of Tasmania

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Wired and dangerous : maternal bodies in cyber(cultural)space

posted on 2023-05-26, 20:54 authored by Gorris-Hunter, A
Maternity, like cyber(cultural)space, is contested terrain. Despite challenges from feminism contemporary discussions, images and experiences of maternity are all too often still haunted by notions of the self-sacrificing, domestic and natural Good Mother. In the hope of something different this thesis turns to an investigation of the cyber-realm and the potential of this new domain to overturn dominant discourses of motherhood. Scholarship investigating intersections of maternity and technology, usually concerned with reproductive technologies, is expanded in this thesis into cyber(cultural)space as the cyber-domain increasingly engages with and is infiltrated by maternal bodies. This thesis draws on conceptualizations of cyber(cultural)space as culture and artefact to extend the popular notion of the cyber-realm as the Internet to include CD ROMs and galleries that display digital art. The thesis initially considers websites concerned with maternity and their virtual communities. This section begins by investigating commercial maternity sites and focuses on the intertwining of maternity with consumption and the surveillance and commodification of the pregnant and maternal body. It then examines two less commercial and more 'alternative' maternity sites - The Bad Mothers Club, with its signature of maternal humour and the e-zine Hip Mama and its political debates. The thesis then turns to two sites of cyber-culture where maternity has not thus far been the focus of critical discussion. It interrogates the capabilities of hypertext in Shelley Jackson's widely distributed CD ROM, Patchwork Girl. The focus of discussion about this cyber-feminist re-working of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is its construction of maternity as hybrid, monstrous, fragmented and queer. Shifting further along the spectrum of cyber(cultural)space the thesis visits the works of acclaimed Australian multi-media artist Patricia Piccinini. Her work inspires multiple readings and the discussion teases out the complex possibilities of monstrosity through which it constructs techno-maternities. The methodology employed owes a debt to Christine Hine's \virtual ethnography\" - sustained and deep involvement with and analysis of online interactions and the meanings generated from the resulting connections and disconnections. The analyses rely upon discourse analysis and semiotic analysis in order to access the epistemological and ontological assumptions attached to the texts. Cyber(cultural)space is no guarantee of subversion and it is not only the commercial websites that make this clear. Nevertheless the thesis concludes that cyber(cultural)space abounds with possibilities for the overturning of restrictive traditional tropes of mothering. In these cyber-spaces of subversion monstrous outlaw mother-bodies laugh at conventional motherhood as they write a techno-charged queer and feisty maternity for the twenty-first century."


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Copyright 2010 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. Maternal bodies - the academy writes around -- Ch. 3. CyberMamas - brrreeders in cyberspace -- Ch. 4. Patchwork girl -- Ch. 5. Slippery mutants perform and wink at maternal insurrection: the monstrous cute of Patricia Piccinini's creatures -- Ch. 6. Conclusion

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