In 2017 I passed my PhD viva with no corrections following a three year funded studentship at Coventry University in the School of Media and Performing Arts.
My PhD project explored the lived experience of posthuman subjectivity using autoethnographic data collected during game play in the massively multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft. Through my autoethnographic reflections, I documented the emotional, affective, embodied, empathic and performative aspects which are at play in the relationship between avatar and gamer. As Braidotti suggests, ‘the relationship between the human and the technological other has shifted in the contemporary context, to reach unprecedented degrees of intimacy and intrusion’ (2013: 89), and in my thesis I argued that the gamer was one embodied example of this.
I discussed embodiment and subjectivity when shared with an avatar, demonstrating the ways in which this links with research around the posthuman and utilising aspects of acting, performance, empathy, affect, amongst others to deconstruct this emergent posthuman subjectivity. The research illustrated one way that posthuman subjectivity occurs as a permeable and fluid embodiment between human and machine. In this regard, the research used theory to help us make sense of the everyday and “mundane” practice of gaming. It, therefore, identified an example of a posthuman subjectivity, demonstrating the everyday application of theory through its use in a popular way of engaging with the media. Furthermore, the research considered the ways in which being “posthuman” feels very “human” thus articulating a space in between the utopian and dystopian versions of posthumanism by arguing that this posthuman subjectivity is as complex a subjectivity as any other that we embody.
It is hoped that the research could have wider applications for researchers interested in the intersections of subjectivity and technology.