May 6 | Gender Politics in Patchwork Girl by Mary Shelley : A Cyborg Approach

Monday, May 6th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 9206

“Gender Politics in Patchwork Girl by Mary Shelley : A Cyborg Approach”

Anne-Laure Fortin-Tournès (Le Mans Université)

Abstract : As a complex fragmented and syncopated hypertext, Patchwork Girl by Mary Shelley interpellates its reader into the position of a multiple, interconnected subject whose task is to piece together the creature in and of the text, through bodily action, by clicking on the hyperlinks. Piecing the female body and the body of the text together in order to be able to read ‘herstory’ forces the reader to adopt a position that ceases to be one of mastery and dominance traditionally adopted in the reading of print fiction. Rather, Patchwork Girl forces the reader to adopt a gaze that is ‘modular and fragmentary’ (Sanchez-Palencia and Almagro 2006) which facilitates her active participation in the textual criticity inherent in the rhyzomatic form of the hypertext. By appealing to the reader’s demiurgic powers of imagination and by calling on her to put together the fragments of the creature and of the text to create her own hybrid, monstrous cyborg reading, the hypertext induces the replacement of the identity paradigm with the performance paradigm. The patched body of the monstrous female in the text serves as a powerful metaphor for the capacity of the hypertext as a ‘feminine form’ to deconstruct the binaries and boundaries introduced by modern science at the service of male hybris, which Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one of the key intertexts to Patchwork Girl, forcefully denounced. Thanks to its paradoxical materiality, the new type of fiction that is the hypertext enables the cyborg-like metaphorical articulation of the female creature’s body with the monstrous form generating it. Thus, the technological medium makes it possible for Jackson to graft the text as body onto the body as text to deconstruct the logic of male-dominated technocapitalism. Engaging with the hypertext implies for the reader the letting go of the binaries (text/body, text/sex, text/technology) which used to structure and guide traditional reading. It requires a cyborg approach (Hayles 2000) which welcomes and performs multiple, hybrid forms of interconnectedness allowing for the creation of new subjective modalities in and of the text.


Bio : Anne-Laure Fortin-Tournès is a full Professor of British literature at Le Mans Université, she is a specialist in contemporary British fiction and interart studies. She has published a monograph on Martin Amis (Martin Amis : le postmodernisme en question, Rennes: PUR, 2003), directed collective books  (Figures de la violence, Paris, Publibook, 2005 and Texte/Image : parcours et détours, Paris, Publibook, 2008), and special issues on cybercorporeality in international peer-reviewed journals (« New approaches to the body, performance, experimentations », Angles n° 2, 2015, http://angles.saesfrance.org/index.php?id=91/ « L’Art intempestif », Polysèmes n° 17, 2017, http://sait-france.org/la-revue-polysemes/ « Experimental art », Angles n° 5, 2017, http://angles.saesfrance.org/). She has also published extensively on the poetics of postmodernist British fiction. Her current research focuses on the aesthetics and politics of the body in experimental and digital literature. For more information see http://3lam.univ-lemans.fr/fr/membres/enseignants-chercheurs/fortin-tournes-anne-laure.html


Sponsored by the MA program in Digital Humanities

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