This chapter is intended to provide a provisional investigation of the ways in which technologies of culture are both themselves produced by and in turn are productive of the social category ‘woman’ (Riley, 1988; Nicholson, 1990). It will include a consideration of both the gendered relations of cultural reproduction and the implications of such relations for the constitution of gender; that is, it will investigate both the ways in which gender has shaped the ordering of cultural reproduction and the significance of cultural reproduction for the organisation of gender relations. In particular, this chapter will argue that the emergence and development of modern cultural technologies have been a key factor in the shaping of femininity; the role they play will be analysed in terms of changes in the social organisation of the two axes of reproduction, that is, first, the capacity for copying at the moment of production, and, second, the relation between production and reception or the audience. It will further be argued that the social category of women has influenced the deployment of cultural technologies themselves, including the distinction between high and popular culture.
This analysis is thus intended to add to recent feminist discussions of the ways in which the category of ‘woman’ is both the product and process of its representation and self-representation (de Lauretis, 1987). More specifically, it will be argued that this process has been characterised by a transition from the representation of woman as sign within modernism to the simulation of femininity in what has been called postmodern culture. Clearly, such a sweeping interpretation can only be made schematically here, and examples from visual arts,