Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


American Studies


Francesca Sawaya

Committee Member

Kara Thompson

Committee Member

Charles McGovern


Surveillance plays a central role in the film Ex Machina (2015). Though surveillance is usually conceived as a unilateral force exerted by one agent onto another, the film imagines a more fluid system where characters perform roles of surveillant and subject of surveillance simultaneously. to provide commentary on surveillance culture, the film connects the A.I. film genre to the office film and fraternity film, which privilege male kinship. In bringing these three genres together, the film highlights gender hierarchies and constructions of masculinity where surveillance is a tool for exacting hetero-patriarchal power. Using Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, I draw a connection between notions of gender and surveillance in the film. Surveillance becomes the system through which the characters understand, construct, and perform their gender, thus highlighting the performativity of gender. But surveillance, too, is revealed as performative, as it is it becomes an unstable method for knowledge aggregation and presumes the tools of its undoing. Understanding lateral surveillance as performative opens up possibilities for resistance in the post-9/11 surveillance state.



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