Representation of abortion in selected film and television

Barrington, Claire Ann
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This dissertation argues that the representation of abortion provides a platform which reveals women’s societal and gendered positions, and provides a critique of the hypocritical attitudes to which societies subject women. I will be considering various representations of abortion in six films and two television shows. The films are Alexander Kluge’s Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (1973), Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake (2004), Fruit Chan’s Dumplings (2004), The Pang Brother’s Re-Cycle (2006) and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012). The two television shows are FX’s American Horror Story (2011—) and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (2005—). Each text provides a unique representation of abortion, often situating the issue within particular physical, social, political and cultural locations. In presenting a close reading of each text, I will show how the representation of abortion in each chapter relates to differing social, political and cultural ideologies. I will argue that there is a developing sense of the lived realities of women, which include, but are not limited to, issues of alienation, autonomy, agency and identity. Such lived realties, I will contend, are constructed within societies that, aware or not of the fact, are dominated by patriarchal influences.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts. Johannesburg, 2016
Barrington, Clare Ann (2016) Representation of abortion in selected film and television, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>