Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Prof. Helen Fielding

Second Advisor

Prof. Christopher Keep


This thesis describes the lived-experience of digital embodiment. Writing against representational and semiotic accounts of cyber-bodies, I use Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the phenomenal body to describe the inter-corporeal quality of being digitally embodied. I suggest that the avatar is primarily a haptic image rather than being a visual representation of its user. A haptic image is a reflection of my comportment that forms the basis for my inter-acting senses “touching” each other to form a continuous experience rather than a felt-mixture of different sensations. I conclude that digital embodiment is actually rather fleshy. This conclusion returns me to an investigation of human bodies. In the final section I consider the haptic image in terms of my relations with others. I describe how raced and gendered knowledges inhere in my daily comportment toward others and how this is haptically reflected. I propose that we tune our phenomenal bodies toward an inter-corporeal basis for encounter.



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