Bodies that matter: Science fiction, technoculture, and the gendered body

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This article considers the possible intersections of recent technocultural and gender theory, focusing in particular on their respective theorizations of the body. It works from the premise that "the body" is to some extent the product of our understanding of it and concerns itself, therefore, with the relationship between the material and the discursive in the "production" of the body and with the reconceptualization and resignification of "matter" within technocultural and gender theory. Both of these theoretical discourses are moving towards an understanding of matter as constructed and non-natural; this emphasis on constructionism contrasts with earlier, more utopian views of the "transcendence" of the body in cyberspace and the radical gender possibilities of cyborgs. These ideas are then explored further via readings of Justina Robson's Natural History (2003) and Pat Cadigan's Tea from an Empty Cup (1998). These two sf novels reformulate the social and cultural meanings of the gendered body through their representations of sexually indeterminate, identity-shifting, hybrid, and radically other bodies. Science fiction, then, facilitates a dialogue between theories of technology and theories of gender, and tests the boundaries of the intelligible as far as our understanding of the gendered body is concerned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-128
Number of pages19
JournalScience-Fiction Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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