Feminist Media Archaeology: Gender, Technology and Desire in Digital Culture
This project will examine intersections of gender, technology and visual and acoustic media in the contemporary digital landscape. Taking up the increasingly visible method of media archaeology, a mode of historicizing the agency of media technologies beyond human use or ends, this project will link longstanding cultural histories of gender and technology to the hardware-centred approaches of theorists such as Friedrich Kittler, Wolfgang Ernst and Jussi Parikka. How might the performativity of gender or the ontological difference of sexuality, both long dislocated from any natural, anatomical or human corpus by feminist critics, extend into the radical outside of autonomous “smart” media technologies? There are rich mythological, literary and cinematic archives of such extensions, traversing antique, modern and post-modern epochs and linking Ovid’s animated statue, Galatea, to Hoffmann’s uncanny automaton, Olympia, Villiers’ Edisonian cyborg, Hadaly, to Lang’s Robot Maria in Metropolis. Parallel to these well-known fantasies there is a no less gendered mingling of bodies and machines practiced by inventors, engineers and software developers, whether it be talking dolls seeking their mother and father, Turing’s test for distinguishing men from women, or the gendered apps, websites and voices of Siri, Jeeves, Cortana and others. Media archaeologists have largely ignored the topic of gender, insisting on a cold, neutral mediality devoid of human warmth or desire. Against this exclusion, this project will argue for an emphatically feminist media archaeology, linking recent intersections of sexual fantasy and digital mediality in cinema, literature and new media to preceding instances in various analog eras.
This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees, whether Home, EU or Overseas.
Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit.