Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.Sc.

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Engle, Karen (Sociology and Anthropology)

Keywords

Sociology.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Through an analysis of MTV's television show I Used to Be Fat, this paper looks at reality television and the weight-loss format in particular, as expressions of the coming into being of the modern subject within the contemporary culture of self-revelation. Through the cultural myth of fast transformation by overcoming the body, heroic narratives depict subjects renouncing their fat bodies in order to produce themselves anew. Drawing on Michel Foucault's late work on Christian technologies of the self, this paper asserts the continuity of ascetic ethical practices in the representation of modern fitness. This analysis draws on Julia Kristeva's figure of the abject in order to provide a missing gender component to Foucault's articulation of self-renunciation. Expanding Foucault's panoptic metaphor to a contemporary culture characterized by self-revelation, this paper depicts the continuities of ascetic transformation discourse as represented in I Used to Be Fat.

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