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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fluid subjectivity : bodies, machines and science fictions in cyberculture Fleury, Angela Richelle


The crisis of the universal subject has been examined by many postmodern theoretical discourses, but this crisis also manifests in popular culture. In particular, science fiction offers us an insight into shifting modes of subjectivity that collide in the boundary between the human and the machine. William Gibson's Neuromancer is an example of a social text which offers us insight into a particular historical juncture which collapses modern and postmodern, identity and difference, mind and body. These boundary transgressions surface in Gibson's text, predominantly though the construction of characters' bodies. The body has historically been a pivotal site for the organization of difference in science, social science and culture, although it has rarely been acknowledged as an explicit subject of these discourses. The dissolution of the strict separation constructed between science and fiction has remarkable implications for subjectivity and identity. Science fiction itself emerges from this boundary, weaving science fact, social reality and imaginary worlds. How science fiction explores technoculture collides with postmodern debates about subject construction. If we come to understand that the body has historically been a tool categorized for the establishment of sameness and difference, the body in science fiction is a productive area of inquiry in relation to techno-subjectivity. Cyberspace and cyberculture do not always problematize traditional Cartesian dualisms relating to mind and body, but these spaces can offer hope about the re-organization of bodies and minds in terms of fluidity and multiplicity. The emergence of new forms of technology like cyberspace and virtual reality in Neuromancer, as well as in social reality, have deep rooted implications for the status of the body but also provide renewed potential for understanding subject construction.

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