Impossible girls and tin dogs: Constructions of the gendered body in Doctor Who

Rowson, Emily (2017) Impossible girls and tin dogs: Constructions of the gendered body in Doctor Who. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis interrogates the various constructions of the gendered body within the rebooted Doctor Who (1963- ). To do this, this thesis contends that Doctor Who occupies something of a contradictory position with regard to gender and the body, seemingly acknowledging the need for equality and feminism as ‘common sense’ whilst simultaneously denying true realisation of these aims by retreat to universal (patriarchal) concepts of goodness, humanity, and benevolence. In addition to this, whilst, at present, our definitions of the gendered body appear to be becoming ever more fluid and abstract, something that is aided by the increasing encroachment of technology in our everyday lives, there remains a limit to this bodily fluidity, a limit heavily informed by recourse to the ‘natural’ and, therefore, the ‘acceptable’. Science fiction’s interest in the body is clear and well documented; science fiction landscapes are frequently populated by bodies that have been mutated, enhanced and cloned. Hence, there is scope for a mutually beneficial discourse between theoretical constructions of the body, evolving technology and science fiction narratives, a discourse that this thesis will ground within the narrative of Doctor Who. In doing this, this thesis will intervene within these debates by deconstructing representations of the gendered body within the rebooted Doctor Who, constructing a continuum of ‘acceptable’ bodily expressions that will offer insight into the limits of our apparent gendered bodily fluidity.

Using a methodological approach that involves textual analysis informed by social, cultural, and technological theory, this thesis begins by foregrounding the mutual areas of interest between the various theoretical concepts. From this, the thesis contains three broad thematic chapters discussing the topics of reproduction, monstrosity and technology with the selection of these topics being attributable to them representing convergence points of interest for the given theoretical areas. These themes are then grounded and discussed within Doctor Who, with the programme’s popularity, longevity, long form narrative structure, and political reflexivity all making it an appropriate lens for analysis. This thesis argues that these debates are ones Doctor Who both acknowledges and embodies, yet Who appears to remain hamstrung by a resort to tradition that prevents true radicalism and subversion. By using Doctor Who as an accessible point of reference for these potentially abstract and emotive debates, this thesis aims to question the extent to which we are now, or may ever consider ourselves, truly ‘postgender’; whether our ‘choices’ are as freely made as they appear, or whether we remain constricted by residual patriarchal mores.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L300 Sociology
W400 Drama
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 14:04
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:46

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