Sisterhood, Science and Surveillance in Orphan Black

Critical Essays


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About the Book

The BBC America series Orphan Black (2013–2017) won acclaim for its compelling writing, resonant themes and innovative special effects. And for the bravura acting of Tatiana Maslany, who plays an ever-growing number of clones drawn into an increasingly dangerous world of cutting-edge science, corporate espionage, military secrets and religious fanaticism. Heir to pioneering shows centered on strong female characters, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Lost and Xena: Warrior Princess, Orphan Black models the current Golden Age of serial-form storytelling, with themes of identity, bodily autonomy, gender and sexuality playing against corporate greed and its co-opting of science. This collection of new essays analyzes the diverse clone characters and the series, covering topics including motherhood, surveillance culture, mythology, eugenics, and special effects, as well as the science behind cloning.

About the Author(s)

Janet Brennan Croft is liaison to the School of Communication and Information and Librarian for Disability Services and Copyright at Rutgers University Libraries in North Brunswick, New Jersey. She has written on the Peter Jackson films, J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Lois McMaster Bujold, and other authors, and is editor or co-editor of five collections of literary essays and edits the refereed scholarly journal Mythlore.

Alyson R. Buckman is chair and professor of humanities and religious studies at California State University, Sacramento. She is secretary of the Whedon Studies Association. She has written on Octavia Butler, The Gilmore Girls, women in science fiction, Meridel LeSueur, and Marge Piercy as well as on Joss Whedon’s oeuvre. She is coeditor of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: Confounding Purpose, Confusing Identity.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Alyson R. Buckman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6854-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3783-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Galaxy of Women
Alyson R. Buckman and Janet Brennan Croft 1

“I am not your property”: The Progressive Feminism of Orphan Black (Graeme J. Wilson) 5
Women’s Rebellion or Radical Containment? Understanding Orphan Black’s Feminist Message (Dani Howell) 22
“To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings”: Soccer Moms, Punks and Postfeminist Mothers on Orphan Black (Erin Bell) 41
Making Clones, Making Mothers: Motherhood in Orphan Black (Jenny Bonnevier) 58
Motherless Bad Girl/Bad Girl Mother: Naturalizing and Essentializing Motherhood in Orphan Black (Laine Zisman Newman) 77
Hell and Back: Helena as Kore and Shaman in Orphan Black (Janet Brennan Croft) 95
Living in the Panopticon: Resistance to Surveillance in Orphan Black (Brandi Bradley) 113
“My story is an embroidery”: Representing Trauma Within the World of Orphan Black (Alyson R. Buckman) 128
Performing Bodies: Multiplying ­Cyborg-Clones, CGI and the Invisible Special Effect (Bronwen Calvert) 151
Sheeply Empowerment: An Analysis of M.K.’s Reappropriation in Orphan Black (Jennifer DeRoss) 166
cDNA/©DNA in Orphan Black: Eugenics, Surplus Life and the Castor Virus (Jessica Lee Mathiason) 180

About the Contributors 205
Index 207