I'm nobody: The somatechnical construction of bodies and identity in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

Holly Randell-Moon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Television and film writer Joss Whedon has produced a number of popular culture works which explore representations of what female bodies are seen to be capable of and how these representations affect what female bodies can do. Texts such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Serenity (2005), and Dollhouse (2009-2010) are as much celebrated for subverting gender and genre conventions as they are criticized for reinforcing sexualized images of women and violence. Instead of approaching Whedon's texts in terms of their representations of gender, and how feminist or otherwise these representations are, this paper explores the ways in which Whedon's texts suggest that subjectivity is textually and discursively constructed. In particular, I will stage a reading of his latest television program, Dollhouse, as a representation of the somatechnical construction of bodies and identity. Somatechnics refers to the inextricable connection between the soma, the material corporeality of bodies, and the techne or techniques and technologies through which bodily being is produced and lived. By making visible the somatechnics of bodily being and the ways gender and embodiment are experienced through and produced by cultural and discursive technologies, Dollhouse emphasizes the role of power in the construction of embodied identity rather than something which always or inevitably oppresses and constrains bodies gendered as female.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Embodiment
  • Feminism
  • Power
  • Somatechnics
  • Subjectivity
  • Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'I'm nobody: The somatechnical construction of bodies and identity in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this