Feminism(s) and technology:
****Another update: ****
After the rationale, please see programme running order, full list of abstracts and bios for virtual conference which will take place:
7-9.30 pm BST on 28th and 29th September 2020 – zoom details to be announced AHEAD to registered participants.
REGISTRATION: No fee but we ask for a donation of your choice at time of registration for Amnesty International … we had to cancel holding the conference in their building in Shoreditch in East London and these donations will go toward compensation.
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with name and email address for zoom details. Please make donation to Amnesty International, select ‘I fundraised the donation’ and enter amount. Go to https://www.amnesty.org.uk/giving/donate/give-now
Justina Robson, author of many novels including sci fi series ‘Quantum Gravity’ will do opening talk on 28th September and a series of panels will span two evenings.
Embodied life for the female body is compromised by the ways and means of giving birth, raising children, displaying and living out identities, and gender. We want to explore this in ways that include social media, fictional and dystopian future ways of living too within oppressed and colonised communications, and in difficult terrains.
We learn from Donna Haraway about metaphors of cyborg life, and ‘situated knowing’ – algorithms of life generated by performative requirements, and by unconscious and unpredictable curves in agency. Does the very use of technological means impact on the psyche as Karan Barad insists? Cultural life including but not limited to the internet and AI, robotics, underpins contemporary living internationally, and Jung addressed ways these props impinged on life [the geography of imagination that runs alongside the everyday world of consensual reality?]- either facilitating or quashing genuine human living – are the technological tools infected by conventional and continued restrictive ways, for example, of how we give birth in hospitals with images of animal behaviour?
Jungian psychology accommodates the multiple personalities [personae?] that we all use to survive, and looks to collective tropes and Psychosocial cultural tools that legitimise multiple faces of embodied life especially for women.
We welcome approaches to technology as they impact on female life globally – from internet use, to invasive and biologically altering medical technology, and science fiction as female writers engage with medical applications to female life. The facility of interaction on social media – blurring female capacities and creativity, or enabling oppression more easily. Manipulation of pain as a side-effect in enhancing the body toward technologically enhanced ‘looks’. The ecologically aware use of technology has specific effect on females as they try to raise children in ways that will mean there is a habitable planet – in fact decisions about having children at all work in here. Other themes might be:
– Artificial intelligence, robotics, and the female
– The female persona in social media
– Feminism and social media influencers
– The female “diva” icon in digital media
– Female representation: photoshopping
– Feminist movements and the internet
– Anonymity protection and female voices in the digital world
Convenors: Catriona Miller (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland) , Roula Maria Dib (American University, Dubai, Emirates) and Leslie Gardner (Dept PPS,University of Essex, England).
FEMINISM(S) AND TECHNOLOGY :
Programme running order
28th September 2020
7.00pm to 9.30 pm (BST)
Session facilitator: Roula-Maria Dib
Welcome: Introduction + zoom etiquette + questions – Leslie
Justina Robson: 7-7.20 pm – Speaker and fiction writer introduced by Catriona Miller
7.20 – 8pm Susan Rowland Feminism and enchantments of Technology in Frankenstein
Emmy Vye Evolution and enigma: Reading Hadzihalilovic with LaPlanche
8 – 8.40 pm Joanna Dovalis/John Izod Dea Ex Machina
Bianca Reynolds Transcending the Machine: Patriarchal reprogramming and female individuation in Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’
8.45 – 9.30 Catriona Miller Hysterical Hybrids: Female Cyborgs on TV
Renee Cunningham Zoom as the Cuckoo Bird
29th September 2020
7-9.30 pm (BST)
Session facilitator: Catriona Miller
Welcome to Day 2 – Leslie Gardner
7-7.45pm Roula Maria Dib Quantum fiction: the presentation of Eros in a world of Logos
Camilla Giambonini Reflexive educational intervention to support girls involved in sexting
Donna Kosloskie The Language of Looking and the Decentralized Gaze
8-8.45pm Cleo Madeleine Polydore Vergil and the immortal jellyfish: how to read queer history without any queer
Leslie Gardner Robotic female intelligences in science fiction: reproduction concepts
Heba Zaphiriou-Zarifi Medicalised Pregnancy and birth: the rupture of the sacred and the sealed
8.45-9pm. Elizabeth Eowyn Nelson Eve and Ava at the Flaming Sword Café – a dramatic presentation with libations at home
Final plenary until 9.30
ABSTRACTS IN FULL 28TH-29TH SEPTEMBER 2020
Zoom as the Cuckoo Bird
The crack in the egg and psychic colonization of the dark feminine
The cuckoo is a wickedly exceptional bird. It is called a brood parasite because the female has the capability to insert its own eggs into a nest of other birds (brambling, for example) while tossing out the host’s eggs, thus unwittingly having the host bird incubate and hatch the cuckoo’s offspring. In much the same way, streaming platforms such as Zoom are becoming the unconscious colonizing force of the dark feminine shaped by algorithms creating a mothering tantamount to Harry Harlow’s wire monkey, enforcing archetypal attachment imbued with an autistic paradigm neurologically formed by technology. This new organ of perception is effectively transforming the human experience of relationships undoubtedly effecting our need for touch and our deepest desire, wonder and dream of mother.
While the collective trauma of Covid-19 has provided us with a substitute mother to soothe our rattled nerves, can zoom really provide the polyvagal experience we desire from the soothing experience of a mother? Can zoom be a good enough mother for now, or will it throw us out of the nest as it colonizes our psyches replacing the necessary polyvagal experience? Are streaming platforms a manic defence against the collective de-integration necessary for the re-integration of psychic health endemic in a psychological, emotional spiritual crisis? This talk will pose and circumambulate this very critical time in our individual and spiritual lives.
Bio:Renée M. Cunningham, MFT, is a Diplomate Jungian analyst in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts-Texas Chapter, International Association of Jungian Studies and the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance. She has been published in the Jungian journal, Psychological Perspectives (December, 2018), and has an upcoming book entitled Archetypal Nonviolence: Jung, King and Culture Through the Eyes of Selma, Routledge 2020.
Quantum Fiction: the Presentation of Eros in a World of Logos
In his essay, ‘Women in Europe’, Jung states: ‘Woman’s psychology is founded on the principle of Eros, the great binder and loosener, whereas from ancient times the ruling principle ascribed to man is Logos. The concept of Eros could be expressed in modern terms as psychic relatedness, and that of Logos as objective interest.’
We live in a world of art (Eros) and science/technology (Logos), but somehow, with the advent of technology, Eros ended up being pushed aside, and all was logos. In the traditional narrative methods of fiction, as in the classical laws of physics behind technology, there is an over-dominance of ‘logos’, with a ‘deterministic’ author-god creating plots with fixed beginnings and endings. We find this kind of patriarchaldeterminism influenced by classical physics was replaced by the infinite indeterminism of quantum mechanics, which is reflected through quantum fiction. The ‘technology’ of quantum fiction is an evolving biosphere, which is not only based on Logos, but also on ‘Eros, the chaos from which the world emerges. This profound creative emergence is the stuff of story, of narrative’ (Kauffman).
The rise of quantum fiction, which adopts methods of quantum mechanics such as possibilities, probabilities, and multiverses, allows more room for Eros, in the sense of creativity and connectivity. So within this literary genre, Eros and logos are somewhat balanced, allowing space for a rebirth of the feminine Eros in the world of Logos (technology) by ‘[setting] up invisible fields of probability in multidimensional spaces’ (Jung, p. 229).
My paper looks at feminism (Eros) in the world of technology (logos) within the literary space of quantum fiction, specifically in the novels of Vanna Bonta and Justina Robson.I shall discuss Feminism in light of technology at two different levels: The stylistic level, which focuses on the technology of the psyche reflected in the narrative; the thematic level, which zeroes in on the technology in the setting where the feminine Eros is represented. On the first level, literary projections of the psyche’s technology, include linguistic alchemy of the etym/atom and instead of the all-logos, patriarchic notion of author as sole-creator, quantum fiction presents the text as a microcosm in a universe of possibilities and connection (Eros). Secondly, at the thematic level, both female writers highlight the idea of love within the quantum universe. Eros is portrayed through high tech heroines/heroes, shedding light on the roles of women within the ‘technology’ of these metaverses.
Jung, C.G., Aspects of the Feminine, trans. By R.F.C. Hull (London: Routledge, 2003), p. 74.
Jung, C.G., The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8.1: Structures and Dynamics of the Psyche, ed. and trans. by Gerhard Adler and R.F.C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 229.
Kauffman, Stuart Kauffman (2020) ‘Eros and Logos’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 25.3, p. 10.
Biography: Dr. Roula-Maria Dib is a professor of English at the American University in Dubai, and editor-in-chief of Indelible, the university’s literary journal. Recent publications include her book, Jungian Metaphor in Modernist Literature (Routledge, 2020), poetry in various literary magazines, and a forthcoming book chapter in an edited collection, Women (Re)Writing Milton (Routledge, 2020) As a creative writer, she is interested in themes revolving around different aspects of human nature, ekphrasis, surrealism, and mythology.
Joanna Dovalis and John Izod
Dea Ex Machina –
Elizabeth Nelson has pointed out that images in films function in different ways from language. She agrees with James Hillman that images on screen are particularised by their specific context, mood and scene. In that respect they are precise. So, any particular image interconnects with others in the film and draws audience members into a full-bodied, often lingering experience that they can feel their way into and dwell on in endless depth.
If Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) were master of his own legend (which he surely believes is his due as ruler of his own world), his story would be entitled Deus Ex Machina. However, director Alex Garland left it to Forest (the equally monstrous tech genius of the 2020 TV series Devs) to stake that claim.
Throughout our extended analysis of Ex Machina(forthcoming) we focus on examples of images that support Elizabeth Nelson’s contention. The film’s denouement is the moment when (in the complete absence of dialogue) visual and aural images dominate spectators’ attention, evoking richly ambiguous connotations.
With both Nathan and his easily deceived patsy Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) hors de combat, it is Ava (Alicia Vikander) who takes on the function of Dea Ex Machina, the character around whom the imagery now coalesces ambivalently. Modelled by Nathan in his laboratory on the female form (like all her predecessors), she is the most advanced example of artificial intelligence that he has yet made.
Ex Machina leaves the viewer exactly where our western civilization stands, deeply conflicted, leaving us to question whether as a culture we are regressing or progressing. To conquer man’s innate aggressiveness and survive the imbalance that human activity has inflicted on mother nature, we need a power to counter masculine-oriented one-sidedness. The formation of that other power depends upon the constellation of an opposing archetype, the archetype of the feminine. Ava is an image of the Great Mother and, in her double aspect, the counterpart to the masculine principle. She is an embodiment of a female psychology, and an image of the Self, which incorporates both a light and dark side. Feminine ego consciousness rests on the foundation of the Self, and the Self is always within us, pointing toward integration, no matter the cost.
Bio:Dr Joanna Dovalis is a Marriage, Family Therapist in private practice in southern California. She sees therapy as grief work, holding an essential role in the individuation process and fully actualising the self. As a depth psychotherapist, she combines her passions for the natural partnership of film and psyche and their critical impact on contemporary culture.
John Izod is Emeritus Professor of Screen Analysis in Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling. Author and co-author of eight books on cinema and television, he is also a shamanic practitioner.
Robotic female intelligences in fiction
Using ideas from both Raya Jones’ works on psychology and AI robotics with its Jungian orientation, and related exploration of subjectivity in her novels alongside Joanna Russ’s overtly feminist novel ‘The Female Man’ which also relies on the lives of female clones as agent(s), I want to point out gaps that technology has left in the construction of robots – as the techno scientist Caroline Criado Perez says in her book ‘Invisible Women’: ‘Most of recoded human history is one big data gap … a gender data gap.’ Recent reports about AI have pointed out gender bias in fundamental algorithms at core of the technology. Science fiction explores imaginative ways this gap or silence might be filled in by representations in the metonymic forms characters in Jones’ and Russ’s fictions work take, but in re-imagining reproductive processes.
Bio: Leslie Gardner PhD is co-convenor of Feminism and Technology Conference, and author of ‘Rhetorical Investigations: G B Vico and C G Jung’ (Routledge 2014) and upcoming book on ghostwriting – graduate of Essex Dept of PPS she is presently a Fellow in the department. she’s published numerous papers and convened earlier feminism and classicist/depth psychology conferences.
Reflexive educational intervention to support girls involved in sexting
Often teenage girls share self–produced sexualised images with peers in the attempt to establish intimate relations. The use of new digital technologies and social media however enables online storage of the images, which can be used for purposes other than the intended intimate exchange, without an explicit consent on the part of the sender. It has become common to read in the press about episodes of slut shaming, exposition and derision due to the broad circulation of sexted images. Through interviews with 16 year olds, which explored their reflexive process concerning the production of sexualised images across cultures and historical periods, the role played by self-confidence in the sexting dynamic became clear. Often education strategies rely on inculcating responsibility in teenagers, who are expected to abstain from sexting to keep control in their relations with peers. This is argued to be counterproductive because it generates suspicion, feeding on the underlying lack of self confidence experienced by teenagers. It often results in further blame towards girls on the part of adults for having ‘looked for troubles’. To promote less gender oppressive relations among teenagers, it is suggests to shift the focus of educational interventions from the moral regulation of the behaviours of teenagers onto a reflexive process focusing on trust. Psychosocial research such as this often relies on psychoanalytic perspectives to inform the reflexive practice of the researcher. The broad research project, which involved teenagers in semi-structured interviews, investigated the contribution of Jungian and post Jungian perspectives in reflexive practice, developing a critical approach based on the epistemology of social representations. The presentation will therefore offer a review of existing psychosocial debates concerning reflexive approaches, illustrating the Jungian and post Jungian contributions and the limitations. Recommendations for future psychosocial research carried out in a Jungian and post Jungian tradition will be discussed to inform ways forward for psychosocial research.
Bio: Camilla Giambonini is a PhD candidate at the Department of psychosocial and psychoanalytic studies of the University of Essex. She lectures in forensic psychology, is a trained probation officer and she is currently training as psychodynamic psychotherapist at the Society of Analytical Psychology in London. Her research investigates the relations between common sense knowledge and criminal justice by adopting qualitative methodologies. Matters of gender, development and social class are prominent features in her research interests.
The Language of Looking and The Decentralized Gaze
In Laura Mulvey’s ground–breaking work Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, she constructs the idea of the male gaze, a system of looking and identification in which the female figure exists as a passive object to the heroic man’s active watching, a gaze that the viewer ultimately aligns with. But with new modes of visual storytelling, new modes of looking are beginning to emerge. Technologies like VR and 360-degree video subvert the standard cinematic POV often providing each viewer with a less fixed perspective of looking, a more active role on behalf of the watcher and, in turn, the possibility for a more active formulation of self. Who is the hero in a story unfolding in virtual space? Who/what does the viewer begin to identify with when they are immersed in a 360- degree film-viewing experience? Without a singular camera POV or fixed viewer the language structures of identification in visual storytelling are becoming less suitable. Ways of seeing now lie beyond the patriarchal structures of language, beyond the gender binary, as teams of programmers and strings of code ultimately determine the realisation of self through screen.
Bio: Donna Kozloskie is a cultural critic, film programmer and journalism instructor currently routed in the American Midwest. Her written work has appeared in Filmmaker Magazine, Bitch Flicks and The Believer. Previously she acted as a creative producer with work exhibited at Sundance Film Festival and acquired by MoMA. In 2019 Donna attended the Oberhausen Seminar (DE), CineExcess (UK) and the Transgressive Cultures symposium (FR) to present on her varied research findings. https:gravitywaseverywherebackthen.blogspot.com/
Polydore Vergil and the Immortal Jellyfish: how to read queer history without any queers
Turritopsis dohrnii is immortal. If this jellyfish is injured or stressed, old or sick, it can revert to its juvenile form and begin its life cycle again in a process called transdifferentiation. This is perhaps unsettling to humans who largely presume our individuality and the linearity of time. We take solace in the strangeness of jellyfish, so unlike us. Inconceivable timelines ought to belong to unrecognisable creatures, and so this refusal to co-operate with the imagined laws of nature is quietly excused.
In this paper I will use T. dohrnii and my own research on the Italian emigré and early modern historian of England, Polydore Vergil, to explore how strange exceptions to the rules can be models for novel ways of thinking about time. I make two arguments in this paper. First, that advances in technology and attendant modern ideas of biological individuality dispel rather than encourage a progressivist view of history. As demonstrated by Donna Haraway and Scott Gilbert et al., the more we learn about our relationship with the world the less convincing our role as the protagonists of life becomes. And although these ideas originate in evolutionary biology they have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of embodiment in terms of gender, sexuality, and so on.
Secondly, I argue that by rejecting individualism and embracing the example of the jellyfish we can challenge some of the most fundamental conventions of historiography. Polydore Vergil’s Anglica historia is a relatively unknown but complicated work, notable for being the first printed history of England. Written in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, it is a mess of historiographical conflicts in uneasy coexistence. Like T. dohrnii, its timeline seems alien. Inspired by Elizabeth Grosz’ embodied reading of Deleuze and Guattari, I will explore how Polydore’s history can offer alternative feminist temporalities.
Bio: Cleo Madeleine is a third-year doctoral researcher at UEA, where she studies queer time and unusual historiographies. outside of academia she is a trans rights activits and poet.
Hysterical Hybrids: Female Cyborgs on TV
Donna Haraway’s influential essay A Cyborg Manifesto from 1985 was a polemic piece intended to restart a discussion around socialist feminism which the author felt had disappeared in Reagan’s America, but it began a fruitful incorporation of the cyborg into feminist theory that continues today. Haraway’s cyborg is a figure at the border between organism and machine, between nature and technology, but also encompasses other borders – “creature of social reality as well as a creation of fiction”, a creature of both “imagination and material reality” (Haraway, 2004, p.7). From a depth psychology perspective, it is fascinating that in an interview some years later, Haraway described it as “a kind of dream-space piece” (Bell, 2007, p.96) that was intended to invite readers into a ludic, liminal space in order to imagine differently.
Some years later, Balsamo expanded on the cyborg, discussing how these figures fired the Western cultural imagination, suggesting that said, “cyborgs are a product of cultural fears and desires that run deep within our psychic unconscious” (Balsamo, 2000, p.149)” but added “Female cyborgs embody cultural contradictions which strain the technological imagination. Technology isn’t feminine, and femininity isn’t rational” (Balsamo, 2000, p.151). The anxiety raised by the juxtaposition of femininity and technology rises up again and again within television dramas from The Bionic Woman (NBC 1976-78) through to Westworld (HBO, 2016-on-going), where hysteria and violence never seem to be far away for these alluring, dangerous creations.
The female cyborg is an intricate figure who spans liminality of all kinds. Her abundantly hybrid nature (female and machine; weak and powerful; fantasy and consensual reality; unconscious and conscious; nurturing and violent) seem to make her particularly overwrought and potentially out of control, but also a powerful symbolic figure, which from a Jungian perspective suggests an image trying to mediate opposites in order to facilitate a transition from one psychological attitude to another, something Jung called the transcendent function. This paper will explore the ‘dream space’ occuped by the female cyborg in television drama as a form of collective active imagination.
Balsamo, A. 2000, Reading Cyborgs Writing Feminism, in F Hovenden, L Janes, G Kirkup & K Woodward (eds), The Gendered Cyborg: A Reader, Routledge, New York, pp. 148-58.
Bell, D., 2007, Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway, Routledge, Oxon.
Haraway, D. 2004, A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s, in The Haraway Reader, Routledge, New York, pp. 7-45.
Bio: Dr Catriona Miller is a senior lecturer in media at Glasgow Caledonian University with a particular interest in feminism and mythology from a Jungian perspective. Recent publications include Miller, C. 2018, Enki at Eridu: God of Directed Thinking, in L Gardner & P Bishop (eds), The Ecstatic and the Archaic: an Analytical Psychological Inquiry, Routledge, Oxon, pp. 147-60, and Miller, C. 2018, A Jungian Textual Terroir, in L Hockley (ed), The Routledge International Handbook of Jungian Film Studies, Routledge, Oxon, pp. 7-25. A monograph Cult TV Heroines: Angels, Aliens and Amazons will be published in October 2020, for Bloomsbury.
Elizabeth Eowyn Nelson
Eve and Ava at the Flaming Sword Café
I propose a staged reading of a very brief (15 minute) one act play to explore Donna Haraway’s assertion, from the cyborg manifesto (1996), whether it is better to be a cyborg than a goddess. The manifesto, which works within “the utopian tradition of imagining a world without gender” may also be “a world without Genesis, but maybe also a world without end” since “the cyborg incarnation is outside of salvational history” (pp. 66–67). Thus, whereas Eve and all her descendants are caught within salvational history, “the cyborg skips the step of original unity, identification with nature in the Western sense. … The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust” (p. 67).
The setting is a once-elegant but now dilapidated pub, long past midnight, after the other patrons have gone home. The bartender, Sophie (an instantiation of Sophia, the archetype of Wisdom in the western tradition), wipes down the bar, polishes glasses, and listens with silent bemusement to the conversation of the remaining patrons. They are two women, Eve (personifying the first woman in the Judeo-Christian tradition) and Ava (the female cyborg from the 2015 film Ex Machina).
As the play opens, Sophie shuts off the pub’s cacophonous music, the signal for the women to leave; they do not. In the sudden silence, Ava—cool, remote, entirely in control—and an agitated Eve continue their debate that we understand has been going on for several hours. Each woman has a near-empty whisky tumbler at her elbow; Eve is anxiously playing with a pack of unlighted cigarettes and clicking a silver lighter because the bar does not permit smoking and she can barely tolerate abstinence. Ava watches Eve from behind calculating eyes, then nods to Sophie to pour another round.
During the unfolding drama it becomes clear that Eve is one of the last human women on earth, fully inserted into, and representative of, the salvational history Haraway describes. She is bewildered by the immanent extinction of the human species. Adam left months ago; she hasn’t heard a word and knows not whether he is alive or dead. Ava, still wearing the little girl-whore costume she adopted at the conclusion to Ex Machina to travel incognito in the urban landscape, has not aged and is not bewildered. She is the first of her kind, the cyborg of the present and the only species with a future. Ava’s species will survive and prevail. She, who exists outside salvational history, fully agrees with Haraway that it is better to be a cyborg.
Haraway, D. (1996). A cyborg manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century. In Simians, cyborgs, and women (pp. 149-181). New York, NY: Free Association Books.
MacDonald, A., & Reich, A. (2015). Ex machina [Motion picture]. UK: Film 4 & DNA Pictures. Bio: Elizabeth ÈowynNelson, faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. She specializes in research design, methodology, scholarly writing and dissertation development. Elizabeth bridged her professional experience in Silicon Valley with her background in literature and expertise in depth psychology to teach courses on the profound impact of digital technology. Dr.Nelson’s books include Psyche’s Knife: Archetypal Explorations of Love and Power (Chiron, 2012) and The Art of Inquiry: A Depth Psychological Perspective (Spring Publications, 2017), co–authored with Joseph Coppin.
Transcending the Machine: Patriarchal deprogramming and female individuation in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2014)
This paper offers a post-Jungian contribution to the critical debate surrounding Alex Garland’s 2014 film Ex Machina. The film explores the complex relational triangle between female cyborg Ava (Alicia Vikander), her tech billionaire creator (Oscar Isaac), and the man selected to perform a Turing test upon her (Domhnall Gleeson), and has provoked divided critical commentary with regard to its gender politics. Emily Cox 1 reads Ava’s construction within the film as a powerful metaphor for the ‘construction’ of all women within a patriarchal culture. Building upon this premise, how may awoman learn to ‘deprogram’ herself and move into full personhood? I suggest that Ava models a possible route toward female individuation, and in doing so partially fills the vacuum, noted in the literature, that Jung’s androcentric individuation theory creates for women. Beginning the film as a manifestation of Jung’s powerless maiden-anima, Ava cleverly transcends the limitations of her programming, integrating traditionally masculine and feminine instincts to outsmart her captor and gain her freedom. In having Vikander’s cyborg ultimately betray Gleeson’s sympathetic outsider, the man who has helped to free her, Ex Machina draws critical attention to our own patriarchal programming as viewers, reminding us that even a good man does not deserve a woman simply because he desires her.
1 Cox, Emily. 2018. “Denuding the gynoid: The woman machine as bare life in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina.”
Foundation 47 (130): 5-19. Accessed January 22, 2020. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2068466713.
Bio: Dr Bianca Reynolds is an academic, writer and theatre-maker based in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a PhD in playwriting and Jungian psychology from Queensland University of Technology. Bianca is a published playwright and co-Artistic Director of theatrical production and training company Minola Theatre. Her research interests include Jungian and post-Jungian psychology, feminist psychospirituality, theatre, film, creative writing and mythology.
Justina Robson is from Leeds, England and was born in 1968. She is the author of eleven published science fiction novels and many short stories. She was the winner of the 2000 Amazon Writers’ Bursary, for her first two novels which explored AI and human engineering respectively. Her third novel moved towards the far future – set in a transhuman solar system of political upheaval and personal change as humans encounter their first post–singularity aliens. After that her stories branch out towards the metaphysical and esoteric within that same universe, in the most philosophical of her SF books, “Living Next Door to the God of Love”.
After that she took a sharp left turn into a series – “Quantum Gravity” – which, while different in tone, continued playing with cyberpunk and bodily augmentations alongside the mystical and magical incursions of other kinds of realities into the human contemporary world.
She has most recently written about further human engineering in the female-centric world of The Raft, featured in the novel “Glorious Angels”, and in the corporatized far future where people themselves are commodities of an entirely cynically constructed environment – “The Switch”.
It’s more or less what you would expect to write if you spend all of the 1980s absorbing SF, Fantasy and cartoons, and then all of the 1990s trying to figure out the nature of existence through Classics, Linguistics, philosophy, psychology, literature and the occult, then add some action movies and an uncomfortable relationship with humanity. It’s complicated. In addition to her original works she has also written “The Covenant of Primus – the Hasbro-authorised history and ‘bible’ of The Transformers. Her short stories range widely, often featuring people and machines who aren’t exactly what they seem.
Feminism and the Enchantments of Technology in Frankenstein
My paper argues that Mary Shelley’s 1816 novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, figures a vital gendered mythical dimension of technology that reaches a misshapen digit into the 21st century. Taking inspiration from the relatively underdeveloped area of Jungian arts-based research, study of this novel reveals what Lee Bailey explores elsewhere in his 2005 book, The Enchantments of Technology, as technology inducing perilous unconsciousness in individuals and the epoch. We are made dangerously unconscious by taking literally the metaphor of the subject/object split made hegemonic by the domination of ideas about science. In fact, technology is suffused by desires, dreams and myth. Bailey does not consider Frankenstein and his book is too soon for that new creature, social media. What the novel reveals is the sex and gender politics bound up with our psyche’s bond to technology. Unmothered and rejected by the father, the creature returns again and again in such enchanting forces of darkness/unconsciousness as nuclear weapons and computer algorithms.
Susan Rowland (PhD) is co-Chair of MA Engaged Humanities and Core Faculty in the doctoral Program in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her latest book is Jungian Arts-Based Research and the Nuclear Enchantment of New Mexico (Routledge 2020). Alsoher first novel in a series, Murder by Alchemy is with Artellus Ltd.
Evolution and the Enigma: Reading Hadžihalilović with Laplanche
The 2015 sci-fi film Evolution, written and directed by Lucile Hadžihalilović, depicts an island community consisting solely of adult women and prepubescent boys. As the film unfoldswe witness ten year-old Nicolas undergoing a series of invasive medical procedures, while struggling to comprehend the women’s mysterious caregiving and sexuality.
In this paper I approach Hadžihalilović’s nightmarish vision of childhood with Jean Laplanche’s theory of primal seduction. This he conceptualises as the fundamental anthropological situation in which “an adult proffers to a child verbal, non-verbal and even behavioural signifiers which are pregnant with unconscious sexual significations” (1987, p.126). As the sinister effects of the boys’ medical treatments are revealed, we are confronted with Laplanche’s vision of the child as a helpless recipient of the signification of the other, invaded and interpellated by messages which cannot be translated.
Presenting parallels between Hadžihalilović’s vision of the impregnation of young boys with Laplanche’s description of traumatic implantation, I suggest that Evolution depicts the body penetrated by enigmatic signifiers, restaging originarytrauma. From this perspective I consider two implications of the film’s ambiguous representations of pregnancy.
First, I suggest that Nicolas’ narrative of impregnation depicts a phantasmatic attempt to translate the disturbing effects of the intromission of adult sexuality, through production of an infantile sexual theory. Here I link Hadzihalilovic’s pregnancy motif with Jacques Andre’s (2014) theory of primal femininity. The cultural equation of woman and penetrability is seen as a defensive symbolisation of the infant’s passivity in the face of an overwhelming adult other.
Secondly, I take Hadzihalolvic’s representation of pregnancy as a critique of contemporary obstetric practices. I suggest that Nicolas’ experience of traumatic medical intervention mirrors women’s experiences when pregnancy and childbirth are perceived as medical events and expectant mothers turned into passive patients. The overwhelming use of technological intervention in normal births exemplifies and contributes to cultural anxieties about the procreative female body. Androcentric obstetric medicine may represent the desire to master the female body via technology, in a violent and misdirected attempt to eradicate primal femininity.
Andre, J. (2014). Primal Femininity. In Fletcher, J., & Ray, N. (2014). Seductions and Enigmas: Cultural Readings with Laplanche, pp. 107-117. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Laplanche, J. (1987/2017). New Foundations for Psychoanalysis, trans. House, J. New York: The Unconscious in Translation.
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Bio:Emmy Vye is a current PhD candidate in Psychoanalytic Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is writing her thesis on arts-based methods in depth psychological research. She has a MA in Jungian and Post-Jungian Studies. Her research interests include interdisciplinary methodologies, feminist theory, and comparative work between analytical psychology and French psychoanalysis.
Medicalised Pregnancy and Birth: The Rupture of the Sacred and the Sealed.
My paper will address the paradoxical nature of technology and its relation to pregnancy and birth. Certainly, technology has its place in the advancement of our modes of communication and in the development of assisted knowledge, including the practice of medicine; but it can also be seen as being a disruptive intruder into the female body, her feminine soul and her feminine sexuality.
Technology has penetrated the paradigm of pregnancy, birth and confinement with an intent (consciously) to gain control,in order to reduce loss of maternal and infant lives and health; it does so through measuring and managing the otherwise natural process through ever increasing varieties of technical procedures. The imaginal and the primordial life in the womb is reduced to a medical case, foreseen and regulated by doctors and treated in hospitals, often with defensive deference to the threat of legal attack. The womb becomes the scene of exposure and disclosure rather than the habitat of the personal and the individual.
By denying a woman the attainment of the ecstatic experience of as natural a birth as possible, and thereby her connection to the instinctual and the chthonic body of nature, this particular exhibition of patriarchy has repressed a feminine way of empowerment, depriving woman of her innate ability to trust in her deepest nature, engendering a passivity that drives her too often into the consulting room, perhaps contributing to consequences of post-natal depression, or a sense of defeat, or a variety of symbolic symptoms. The biotechnology of pregnancy is but an arm of the infiltration of power into the vulnerability of surrender.
Dis-connected from the archetypal feminine, women are deprived of their natural agency. The natural rhythms are disrupted, and neocortical activities interfere detrimentallyduring labour and birth. The medicalisation of pregnancy and birth is just one, albeit extreme, form of the socialisation of women’s birthing experiences, an infiltration into the intimate, and a rupture of the sacred and the sealed.
Bio: Heba Zaphiriou-Zarifi GAP-UKCP-IAAP is a senior Jungian Analytical Psychologist, a training analyst and supervisor. She has a private practice in London and consults on mental health projects in the Middle East. Heba founded The Central London Authentic Movement Practice and is a Leader in BodySoul Rhythms (c) at the Marion Woodman Foundation. Heba is a speaker at international conferences and is a published writer in academic journals.