Department or Program

Women and Gender Studies


Female cyborgs have occupied the collective imagination since 1927’s iconic science fiction film Metropolis, reappearing in various popular films and television shows since Metropolis. Some feminist critics argue that depictions of female robots and cyborgs in earlier film and television reinforce sexist norms about female characters in film and television through imagining gendered robots and cyborgs in the form of an “ideal” female body and robots programmed by male scientists for their own purpose; others, however, argue that these same cyborg depictions disrupt traditional binaries of male/female and the biological/technological. How do more recent cinematic and televisual texts’ portrayals of female cyborgs extend or complicate these critiques, especially as the representational strategies of texts such as Ex Machina and Westworld draw from contemporary cultural anxieties about gender, labor, and technology reflected in popular narratives about “the end of men” or the displacements of an increasingly technologized American work force? Attending to the complex ways in which gender, race and sexuality are articulated in these recent fictional texts through a human/robot distinction they both reinscribe and unsettle, and drawing primarily from feminist film studies, cyborg studies, and feminist theory, I argue that Ex Machina’s and HBO’s Westworld’s female cyborgs ultimately re-purpose a trope that conventionally and ostensibly re-entrenches gender and racial norms toward a feminist critique of how U.S. popular culture generally negotiates the perceived promise and peril of new technologies through “old” technologies of race and gender.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Osucha, Eden

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.