Liminal identity in contemporary American television science fiction

Thomas, Rhys O. (2014) Liminal identity in contemporary American television science fiction. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the foregrounding of a particular type of liminal human protagonist in contemporary American television Science Fiction. These protagonists, which I have termed the ‘unliving,’ exist in-between the realms of life and death, simultaneously both alive and dead whilst occupying an indistinct middleground. I examine how the liminal nature of these protagonists has been used as a
means of exploring various aspects of personal identity during the early years of the twenty-first century. Developing anthropologist Victor Witter Turner’s work, in
which he argued for the universal occurrence of liminality in cultural, political, economic and social contexts, I argue that the use of liminal protagonists in American television Science Fiction constitutes a demonstrable trend. Although
they are to be found in ever-increasing numbers in (and outside) the genre, their growing presence and significance have yet to be properly discerned, studied and appreciated. I analyse the use of these unliving protagonists in four key texts:
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (The Halcyon Company/Warner Bros. Television, 2008-2009), Battlestar Galactica (Universal/Sci-Fi TV, 2004-2009), Caprica (Universal/Sci-Fi TV, 2010-2011) and Dollhouse (Boston Diva Productions/20th Century Fox, 2009-2010).
Textual analyses of serial television are often dismissed as outmoded and irrelevant to the study of television. Part of the aim of this thesis is to repudiate this widespread assumption. Therefore, my methodology involves the use of close narrative analysis to interrogate my chosen texts, situating my findings within broader sociocultural contexts. Utilising this methodological approach reveals how these texts engage with contemporary concerns and anxieties regarding illness, religion, trauma, and gender. Ultimately, this thesis presents an intervention within ongoing discourses regarding the relationship between these subjects and personal identity in 21st century America.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
Depositing User: Brian Watkins
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2016 16:17
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2018 00:38
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/56854
DOI:

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