Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fear, Anxiety, and the Assemblage of the Posthuman in Spanish and Catalan Science Fiction (1912-2018)
by Drumright, Kelly J., Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 214; 27956042
Abstract (Summary)

The overarching goal of this project is to present a more nuanced view of the underexamined affective dimension of Homo sapiens’ ever-changing relationships to technology and science by examining the posthuman trope in science fiction narratives (e.g., artificial intelligence, cyborgs, robots, etc.), and to do so with a non-Anglophone corpus as a way to disrupt the English-language dominance of Science Fiction Studies. To that end, this project uses textual analysis to trace the various ways in which the posthuman amasses affective significance as it is taken up in by Spanish and Catalan authors in different historical moments. Blending affect, assemblage, decolonial, feminist, and queer theories, I propose and develop the analytic of “posthuman assemblage” as a way to account for the definitional slipperiness and affective stickiness of the posthuman. The core contention of this study is that fear and anxiety are the primary affective forces that draw posthuman assemblages into formation in Spanish and Catalan science fiction, much like gravity’s influence on celestial bodies, coalescing them into existence and relationship with one another. In Chapter 2, I argue that fear of human annihilation and anxiety about losing control over societal, scientific, and technological development are the fundamental affective forces that shape the posthuman in three works from the 1910s: Homes artificials by Frederic Pujulà, “Mecanópolis” by Miguel de Unamuno, and El hijo del Doctor Wolffan (un hombre artificial) by M.A. Bedoya. In Chapter 3, I contend that fears about the disintegration of cohesive collective identities of A) Man and B) empire animate the posthuman in the Domingo Santos’s Asimov-inspired robot novel Gabriel (1962) and the revised version Gabriel revisitado (2005). Reading Santos’s novels alongside Jamaican decolonial theorist Sylvia Wynter, I argue, reveals how the posthuman functions as a racializing assemblage that constructs science fictional racial hierarchies based on historical examples. Chapter 4 examines Rosa Montero’s novels Lágrimas en la lluvia (2011), El peso de corazón (2015), and Los tiempos del odio (2018), a series inspired by Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) and Ridley Scott’s film adaptation Blade Runner (1982). I propose that fear and anxiety regarding the posthuman in Montero’s novels bifurcates into individual and collective dimensions. On an individual level, the posthuman protagonist fears disablement above all; with respect to the collective, fear and anxiety shape the actions of State and non-state groups in orchestrating the demise of certain (post)humans while protecting others. The conclusion examines commonalities between the primary texts analyzed and proposes that studying Spanish and Catalan science fiction can offer crucial insights for addressing contemporary polemics about science and technology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Herrero-Senés, Juan
Commitee: Molinaro, Nina, Krauel, Javier, Soares, Kristie, Alomar, Maisam
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Spanish and Portuguese
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Disability studies
Keywords: Assemblage, Catalan literature, Posthuman, Science fiction, Spanish literature
Publication Number: 27956042
ISBN: 9798662571358
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