30.03.2015
Research news
Dissertation news

Dissertation: 11 Apr 2015: The Human Question in Science Fiction Television: (Re)Imagining Humanity in Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman and V

Time:

11.4.2015 12:00 — 15:00


Location: Seminaarinmaki, Vanha juhlasali, S212
M.A. Aino-Kaisa Koistinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Contemporary Culture Studies "The Human Question in Science Fiction Television: (Re)Imagining Humanity in Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman and V". Opponent Associate Professor Cecilia Åsberg (Linköpings Universitet) and custos Professor Sanna Karkulehto (University of Jyväskylä).

Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, photo by Saana Tammisto.M.A. Aino-Kaisa Koistinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Contemporary Culture Studies "The Human Question in Science Fiction Television: (Re)Imagining Humanity in Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman and V". Opponent Associate Professor Cecilia Åsberg (Linköpings Universitet) and custos Professor Sanna Karkulehto (University of Jyväskylä).

The event is in English.

ABSTRACT

This doctoral dissertation investigates ‘the human question’ in science fiction television. More specifically, it examines how ‘humanity’ is represented and (re)imagined in the original and remade (or re-imagined) versions of three North American science fiction television series: Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman and V. As the re-imagined series have previously not been compared to their original versions in detail, the dissertation produces new information about the series and their complex cultural, ethical and political implications. I discuss, firstly, how the understandings or boundaries of humanity are drawn in these series. Secondly, I examine what connections can be found between the series, the cultural and historical discussions and contexts surrounding their production and reception, and feminist and posthumanist theory. The contexts found particularly relevant are: science fiction television, the Cold War, the War on Terror, and certain discussions on the definition of humanity in the Euro-American humanist tradition. All the series include some sort of non-human characters in their narratives. The dissertation therefore focuses on how humanity is constructed alongside with the representation of the non-human. The questions asked are: What kind of bodies are represented as human and non-human and do these representations participate in the construction of the cultural-historical, political and ethical understandings of humanity? What kinds of developments or changes, considering the norms and conditions of humanity, are found when comparing the re-imagined series to their original versions? Special attention is paid on the problematic, strange or queer occasions inherent in the definitions of humanity. Key concepts are performativity, passing for human, grievable/ungrievable life, livable life, the cyborg figuration and feminist posthumanism. The dissertation suggests that all the studied series pose, in one way or another, ‘the human question’ and that this question is connected to complex cultural, political and ethical debates considering ‘livable’ lives and human–non-human relations. These debates are also deeply intertwined with, questions of, for instance, ethnicity and gender.

 

Keywords: science fiction television, feminist theory, gender, ethnicity, posthumanist ethics, feminist posthumanism, passing for human, performativity, livable lives

 

More information

Aino-Kaisa Koistinen

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aino-kaisa.koistinen@jyu.fi