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

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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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2015-05

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Disney Animated Film and its Negative Impact on Children

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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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2014-12

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

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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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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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2015-05

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Collage, Counterhegemony, and Community Engagement: Queer Feminist Zine Making as a Process of Generative Failure

Description

Several different queer feminist zines, along with the author's experiences in queer feminist zine making, are examined using the lens of J. Jack Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure. Particular attention is paid to zines' unique composition from a variety

Several different queer feminist zines, along with the author's experiences in queer feminist zine making, are examined using the lens of J. Jack Halberstam's The Queer Art of Failure. Particular attention is paid to zines' unique composition from a variety of unexpected sources, and their subsequent ability to act as counterhegemonic documents. Queer feminist zine makers' critical engagement with the concept of community is also discussed.

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2014-05

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The Aesthetic Goes Down With The Ship: How the Volatile Music Industry Has Undermined an Established Indie Aesthetic

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The project analyzes the history of indie music and culture, and how the aesthetic has been undermined by the modern music industry. The project discusses rhetorical theory on the nature of publics, including group identification through rhetorical discourse as expressed through indie culture.

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2013-05

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Cash Cab and Women's Oppression: A Study in Linguistics

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A study on the power inequity between men and women in inter-gender conversations, how it manifests linguistically, and the social ramifications thereafter. Conversations from the game show Cash Cab are used to this point.

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2021-05

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Avalon

Description

Feminism has been the focus of many writers throughout the decades but has recently gained momentum in the eyes of the general public thanks to works like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Feminist figure Hélène Cixous encourages women to empower

Feminism has been the focus of many writers throughout the decades but has recently gained momentum in the eyes of the general public thanks to works like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Feminist figure Hélène Cixous encourages women to empower themselves by applying feminist ideas to their writing, rather than remaining complacent in an oppressive society. Avalon strives to portray some of these ideas through the lens of Arthurian Legend. A feminist story set in an epic fantasy world, Avalon shows the struggle of marginalized groups in a patriarchal, discriminatory, and dystopian society.

The main character, Princess Alexandria, must navigate a world where the all magic is controlled by a power-hungry ruler, King Mordred. After he decides to pursue the Ruins of Kronos in order to gain control over time itself, the princess decides to intervene. Alexandria escapes the palace with her childhood best friend James, to stop him, nearly dying in the process, and finds a group of fairies who have lost their wings. The fairies help her discover the true origins and capabilities of magic, making her realize that she must restore it to the realm in order to stop King Mordred. Alexandria disguises herself as a man and joins the King’s Knights, befriending a rebel in disguise named Keith along the way, as she discovers her brother Noah may be on the King’s side. Together, they work to liberate lands oppressed by King Mordred’s rule, and by the Black Plague that Morgana has set upon them, all while uncovering the corruption present in their society.

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2019-05