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


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Gorris-Hunter, A 2010 , 'Wired and dangerous : maternal bodies in cyber(cultural)space', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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
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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Gorris-Hunter, A
Keywords: Motherhood, Motherhood in popular culture, Women, Sex role, Human reproduction
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. 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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