Roberta Bartoletti

Zeus pregnancies. Fictional filmic images and imaginaries of human cloning as male parthenogenesis

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Procreation offers a privileged perspective on the relationship between genders and particularly on the different values of the two sexes. The article focuses on a recurring theme in (not just) western imaginary: male appropriation of female maternal power, exemplified by the mythological extraordinary birth of Athena from Zeus's head. We argue that the scientific myth of human cloning also represents male desires of self-procreation bypassing women's bodies. We analyzed a significant panel of fictional films on human cloning from the period 1997-2013. In these fictional stories human cloning is represented mostly as masculine techno-scientific parthenogenesis, but the relation of these new Zeus with female figures is underrepresented. More radically we note that the relationship between sexes is repressed in the imagery of human cloning, even if it constitutes a central and challenging point.


  • Imaginary
  • Masculine Parthenogenesis
  • Human Cloning
  • Science Fiction
  • Zeus Syndrome


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