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Cyborg Feminism: Ambiguity and Hybridity of the Female Cyborg

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A posthuman figure like the female cyborg challenges traditional humanist feminism in ways that make room for theorizing new subjectivities and feminist epistemologies. Rather than support a traditional feminism that assumes common experiences within patriarchal society and erases differences among

A posthuman figure like the female cyborg challenges traditional humanist feminism in ways that make room for theorizing new subjectivities and feminist epistemologies. Rather than support a traditional feminism that assumes common experiences within patriarchal society and erases differences among women, cyborg feminism moves beyond naturalism and essentialism to acknowledge complex, individual, and ever-changing identity. Three films, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2015), all offer such a vision of the female cyborg. In these films, the cyborg subject is a composite of machine and human—sometimes physical, dependent on the corporal mixing of flesh and machine, but just as often mental. Human sentiment, human memories, and human emotion merge with mechanical frames and electronic codes/coding to produce cyborgs. Importantly, every main cyborg in these films is coded as female. For each cyborg, a female body hosts preprogrammed sexuality and the emotions each creator thinks a woman should have, whether those are empathy, compassion, or submissiveness.

The cyborgs in these films, however, refuse to let categorizations like female, or even their status as human, alive, or real, restrict them so easily. As human-robot hybrids, cyborgs bridge identities that are assumed to be separate and often oppositional or mutually exclusive. Cyborgs reveal the structures and expectations reified in gender to suggest that something constructed can as easily be deconstructed. In doing so, they create loose ends that leave space for new understandings of both gender and technology. By viewing these films alongside critical theory, we can understand their cyborgs as subversive, hybrid characters. Accordingly, the cyborg as a figure subverts and fragments the coherency of narratives that present gender, technology, and identity in monolithic terms, not only helping us envision new possibilities but giving us the faculties to imagine them at all.

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2019-05

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Ekphrastic Science Fiction: Stories and Paintings Inspired by Art History

Description

The common human experiences depicted in classical paintings from art history are becoming less relatable due to the increasing influence and presence of technology in our day to day lives. This project contains two parts. The first part is a

The common human experiences depicted in classical paintings from art history are becoming less relatable due to the increasing influence and presence of technology in our day to day lives. This project contains two parts. The first part is a remixing of 3 classical works of art so that they include the presence of technology and communicate the possible evolution of human experiences as technology will be incorporated into them. The three remixed paintings are as follows: Eduoard Manet's Olympia, which showcases the human experience of relationships and gender dynamics; Edgar Degas' Dancers, which showcases the human experience of creation and learning; and Raphael's Madonna del Granduca, which showcases the human experiences of child-rearing, maternity, and childhood. The second part of the project utilizes the ekphrastic process, ekphrasis being the process of using the written word to give voice and explanation to a piece of visual art. In this part of the project, three short science-fiction stories were written, one in response to each of the classical paintings and its respective remix. The stories focus on themes of how technology will integrate itself into the common human experiences of parenting, entertainment, and intimate relationships, and the problems and solutions that may arise as a result. The stories are intended to be read alongside the paintings, however they can also be read separately without the context of the paintings from which they were drawn. Likewise, the paintings can be viewed separately from the short stories. The work is complimentary and builds on itself.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Cinderella and Her ""Faux Feminist"" Contemporary Retellings

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Fairy tale retellings have permeated literature, film, and media ever since the original stories emerged. New adaptations are constantly being released, and therefore new research must constantly be published. In this study, I analyze "Aschenputtel" by the Brothers Grimm, as

Fairy tale retellings have permeated literature, film, and media ever since the original stories emerged. New adaptations are constantly being released, and therefore new research must constantly be published. In this study, I analyze "Aschenputtel" by the Brothers Grimm, as well as various retellings of "Cinderella," including Andy Tennant's Ever After (1998), Mark Rosman's A Cinderella Story (2004), and Marissa Meyer's Cinder (2012). This selection includes a live-action historical film, a live-action contemporary film, and a science fiction novel, all with an intended audience of young adults. While the Brothers Grimm story and Ever After have already been analyzed in the context of gender representation (Zipes, Bottigheimer, Williams), prior academic research fails to adequately address the gender issues in A Cinderella Story and Cinder. Because Ever After, A Cinderella Story, and Cinder are more contemporary than the Grimms' "Aschenputtel," they are often thought to be more progressive (Gruner, Vera, Travers). However, I propose that they still have problematic implications, despite their publication in contemporary society. Jack Zipes, an acclaimed fairy tale scholar, argues that, "For the most part, the transformations [of contemporary Cinderella retellings] tend to be modern remakes with a faux feminist touch" ("The Triumph" 361). Similar to Zipes, I argue that, although the texts initially appear progressive and "feminist," they ultimately support problematic ideals related to gender. All three contemporary texts seem to ally themselves with an ethos of female empowerment through their protagonists' rejection of traditional femininity, but the inclusion of gender policing and the characters' eventual acceptance of hyperfemininity undermine this characterization, as does the ultimate heteronormative "happily ever after." Additionally, the use of competition (between Cinderella and her stepfamily, as well as new female characters) pits women against each other, often because of a man, which generally prevents the development of female camaraderie, other than with the fairy godmother. Further, rather than allying herself with female power (i.e. the mother), the protagonists in both Ever After and A Cinderella Story are defined by their relationship with the father, which minimizes their agency as it suggests a transfer of ownership from the father to the husband/prince. This framing of the protagonist by the father and prince (specifically as she works to "perfect" the prince) seems to relegate the female characters to a supplementary role, simply acting as a tool for the male characters' development.

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2018-05

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Integrating Visual Art & Music: Printmaking Processes & Lathe Cutting Vinyl Records

Description

For my creative project, I began an art press that produces small-run vinyl records and artist's books. Initially, the venture began as a means to circumvent record pressing facilities as a vinyl record-cutting service. By the end of this project,

For my creative project, I began an art press that produces small-run vinyl records and artist's books. Initially, the venture began as a means to circumvent record pressing facilities as a vinyl record-cutting service. By the end of this project, the focus shifted to encompass more visual art products than just vinyl records. The project began with vinyl records because I saw a need in the market; in the past decade, the industry has grown dramatically, but the dozen record pressing plants in the country cannot keep up with the demand. Because record pressing companies prioritize large orders, it is difficult for many small bands and independent record labels to produce work on this medium. This is due to the long lead times, high prices, and large minimum order sizes. I located a man in Germany, who invented a machine that makes high-quality, lathe-cut records. I named the project Blushing Soup, as homage to my father, who passed during my first semester of college. It is through his passing that I was able to secure funds to pursue this venture. I brought on a partner, who was more familiar with art and audio recording than myself. In the summer of 2015, we met with this inventor to learn how to use his machine. By October of 2015, a machine of our own had arrived. In early November, Blushing Soup won a grant from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. During this time, we released two vinyl records for local bands. For a culminating project, I coordinated a Record Store Day compilation album consisting of six bands featuring. After securing all of the music, the machine started having problems, which forced me to cancel this release. Recognizing the delicacy of the machine, prompted a shift in the aim of Blushing Soup. During this process, I started learning printmaking processes, and I realized that Blushing Soup could function as more than a record cutting service; we could be an art press. In the last few month of this project, I started making artist's books. By the end of April 2016, Blushing Soup will have released vinyl records for two bands, as well as produced four handmade books. This creative project centered around the process of creating art through lathe cutting and printmaking; the objective was not to maximize profits but rather refocus the consumption of art (in a sustainable practice).

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Date Created
2016-05

Iris

Description

An artistic film about a girl piecing together memories in search of meaning and hope.

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Created

Date Created
2015-12

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A Modern Myth of Perfection: The Pygmalion Story in Contemporary Film and Culture

Description

This thesis examines contemporary cinematic adaptations of the Ovidian Pygmalion story. The films Blade Runner (1981), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Ruby Sparks (2012), and Her (2013) are analyzed. This thesis seeks to understand why this particular myth is

This thesis examines contemporary cinematic adaptations of the Ovidian Pygmalion story. The films Blade Runner (1981), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Ruby Sparks (2012), and Her (2013) are analyzed. This thesis seeks to understand why this particular myth is so resonant in today's popular culture and what this relevance reveals about modern society. The roles of female subjugation, sexualization, and relationship with technology will be major areas of concern. Research includes film criticism, Ovidian scholarship, and new advances in computer technology.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Creativity in Progress: An Analysis of Contemporary American Poetry

Description

This project focuses on techniques contemporary American poets use in their work. Ten different poetry collections are analyzed for dominant writing styles and techniques, which I then apply to my own poems, concentrating on modeling that particular poet. I then

This project focuses on techniques contemporary American poets use in their work. Ten different poetry collections are analyzed for dominant writing styles and techniques, which I then apply to my own poems, concentrating on modeling that particular poet. I then reflect on those poems through an evaluation of my writing process, how those techniques were implemented, and how they affected the poem. In addition to these reviews and reflections, I also wrote three articles about the literary community and what I've learned from my interactions in that community. All these materials are organized into a website, which shows the connections between the different writings via links and menus. Creating this website brings all the materials together to demonstrate my growth as a poet, writer, and designer. This heavy focus on poetry and analysis has helped sharpen my critical thinking skills and has better prepared me for a career in design and journalism.

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2015-05

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Disney Animated Film and its Negative Impact on Children

Description

The Walt Disney Company has been a worldwide phenomenon for over half a century. Disney's animated films in particular impact a large number of individuals around the world. The fact that they rerelease popular films every few years lends to

The Walt Disney Company has been a worldwide phenomenon for over half a century. Disney's animated films in particular impact a large number of individuals around the world. The fact that they rerelease popular films every few years lends to the lasting influence these movies will hold in the lives of children to come. It is important to examine the messages Disney animated films can teach children in regards to women's roles, United States history, and racial difference. This essay examines these topics as they appear in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and The Lion King. Lastly, it examines the potential impact these films can leave on children and suggests ways in which adults can help children analyze what they see in the media.

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Date Created
2014-12

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Selfies as Digital Identity Formation: Promise and Peril in the 21st Century

Description

This project explores the promise and peril of networked self-portraits, focusing on comparisons between artists Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman, celebrity and reality star Kim Kardashian, Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton, and artists Rafia Santana and

This project explores the promise and peril of networked self-portraits, focusing on comparisons between artists Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman, celebrity and reality star Kim Kardashian, Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton, and artists Rafia Santana and Alexandra Marzella. I defined selfies as networked self-portraits using a front-facing camera. My introduction is more or less a literature review of photographic theory and art history texts, but all the significant themes brought up in that are relevant to the rest of my arguments. The arguments draw from feminist visual theory including Laura Mulvey, art history texts, as well as critical race theorists like Franz Fanon. While I chose four artists in my examination, I used them as a jumping off point to talk about how identity can be networked and what it means for small slices of life to be photographed and spread via social media. I decided to include feminist visual theory to inform my exploration of female bodies, especially how mediation sets up normative behaviors and representations. I used race theory to talk about visibility of people of color, especially in contrast to the white artists I talked about in my thesis. By way of Kardashian and Clinton, I explored the idea of celebrity and visual culture, as well as motherhood and what femininity could look like in the 21st century. I tend not to make any sweeping conclusions about the best way to network femininity using selfies, but rather explore the different challenges that women face when they place historically-policed bodies into what could be a digital utopia online.

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Date Created
2016-05

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The Undoing Project

Description

The Undoing Project is an ongoing educational feminist YouTube channel that serves as an introduction to feminism and feminist theory. The objective for this project is to present feminist theory and feminist ideology in an accessible and entertaining way. Through

The Undoing Project is an ongoing educational feminist YouTube channel that serves as an introduction to feminism and feminist theory. The objective for this project is to present feminist theory and feminist ideology in an accessible and entertaining way. Through this project I sought to accomplish three goals: to challenge the negative image of feminism, bridge the gap between the language of academia and the public, and to acknowledge and unlearn ingrained prejudices. The videos focus on theory, history, legislation, current events, and pop culture. The initial project consists of ten videos addressing the feminist wave models, a brief history of the feminist movement, and discussions of concepts like hegemony, intersectionality, masculinity, femininity, and race.

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Date Created
2015-05