1st Edition

The Biopolitics of Gender in Science Fiction Feminism and Female Machines

By Emily Cox-Palmer-White Copyright 2021
    164 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    164 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Questioning essentialist forms of feminist discourse, this work develops an innovative approach to gender and feminist theory by drawing together the work of key feminist and gender theorists, such as Judith Butler and Donna Haraway, and the biopolitical philosophy of Giorgio Agamben and Gilles Deleuze. By analysing representations of the female cyborg figure, the gynoid, in science fiction literature, television, film and videogames, the work acknowledges its normative and subversive properties while also calling for a new feminist politics of selfhood and autonomy implied by the posthuman qualities of the female machine.

    Introduction: Suspending Gender and Becoming-Gynoid in Science Fiction

    Chapter 1: Woman or Womankind? Signatures, Suspension and Bare Life in Feminism and Science Fiction

    Chapter 2: Removing/Reprogramming the Masculine – The Homo Sacer in the Feminist Dis/Utopia

    Chapter 3: "You can alter our physiology, but you cannot change our nature": The Girl in the Machine

    Chapter 4: Female Machines and Female Flesh – Women and/as Automata

    Chapter 5: "Formally a correct response. But simulated" – Scoring Women on the Voight-Kampff Scale

    Chapter 6: Profane Simulations – Home and Ruin in the Fallout Games

    Chapter 7: Becoming and Avatar – Playing as Cyborgs Among Gynoids in the Deus Ex Games

    Conclusion: Virtual Wives and Autonomous Selves – Towards a Politics of Becoming-Gynoid


    Emily Cox-Palmer-White is a researcher specialising in gender theory, science fiction and philosophy. Her research is concerned with developing new avenues in feminist philosophy using the work of Giorgio Agamben and Gilles Deleuze. Her work also explores the relationship between gender theory, posthumanism and female robots in science fiction and real-world technology. For her paper "Denuding the Gynoid: The Female Robot as Bare Life in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina," she was awarded the Peter Nicholls Essay Prize by the Science Fiction Foundation and has also received the Support a New Scholar Award from the Science Fiction Research Association. She recently contributed a chapter to the collection Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy published by Open Court.

    "Emily Cox-Palmer-White's original synthesis of ideas drawn from Giorgio Agamben and Gilles Deleuze supplies a new way of thinking about the role of women in feminist SF, cinema and video games. She provides a convincing and thought-provoking contribution to feminist thought and popular cultural studies."

    Dr Paul March-Russell, University of Kent, UK


    "This is a sparkling and surprising debut book. Using the figure of the female robot or "gynoid", beloved of the sci-fi genre, to guide us through the contemporary landscape of gender politics, the author is able to make interventions into discussions of feminism, identity, and female being-in-the-world that are as fresh as they are pertinent."

    Lisa Downing, Professor of French Discourses of Sexuality, University of Birmingham, UK