Reproductive Technologies, Fetal Icons, and Genetic Freaks: Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl and the Limits and Possibilities of Donna Haraway’s Cyborg

Critical Writing
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This article uses Donna Haraway’s work in “A Cyborg Manifesto” to examine how new reproductive technologies and politics meet and converge with fictional representations of the posthuman subject in Shelley Jackson’s hypertext, Patchwork Girl. It argues that Jackson’s text offers a cyborgian reading of reproduction that challenges the dominant discourse surrounding new reproductive technologies. Ultimately, it argues that Jackson’s text represents assisted conceptions, cyborgian births, and monstrous progenesis in ways that explore the possibilities and limitations of the cyborg, and it addresses current preoccupations with the potential benefits and horrors of new reproductive technologies. (Source: Author's abstract)

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Shelley Jackson’s hypertext, Patchwork Girl, offers a cyborgian reading of reproductive technologies that challenges the dominant discourse of fetal imaging.

Part male, part female, part animal, 175 years old, and “razed” up through hypertext technology, the patchwork girl is a different type of cyborg than discussed thus far; she is a reproductive freak whose story only comes into being through hypertext and who embraces her flaws at every turn of the story

One of the ways the story posits a concept of new reproductive technologies outside the norm is by having the monster aware of how her birth was assisted. The monster knows that she is an assemblage of body parts rather than a unified self because she carries memories of her own creation as well as those she is made up from.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen