Science Fiction Film & Television

Trauma, memory and information in American sf film and television, 1980-2010

Science Fiction Film & Television (2013), 6, (3), 327–348.

Abstract

The article explores the ways in which recent American sf film and television have participated in the wider interest in the topics of human memory and psychological trauma. The engagement with these topics in sf films and television shows has concentrated on their status in the midst of the information revolution. The return of traumatic memories has been represented as an ‘information overload’ that the human psyche cannot process, whereas individual memories have been treated as ‘information’ that can be stored, retrieved and manipulated. The convergence of ‘memory’, ‘trauma’ and ‘information’ is seen as part of a more general trend to theorise and perceive of the human psyche as an information system during the period of modernity. This, in turn, is discussed as part of an even wider tendency to conceptualise the human subject as a machine to be analysed, optimised and disciplined, a tendency integral to what Foucault has termed biopower. The central place of memory, information and trauma in these popular texts, the article argues, is part of the attempt to represent the efforts of individuals to negotiate their sense of identity through strategies of resistance against wider social and institutional structures of power.

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Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: Volume I: An Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978. The History of Sexuality: Volume I: An Introduction Google Scholar

Fredrickson, Renée. Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse. New York: Fireside, 1992. Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse Google Scholar

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Gibson, William. Mona Lisa Overdrive. London: Harper Collins, 1988. Mona Lisa Overdrive Google Scholar

Gibson, William. ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1981). Burning Chrome and Other Short Stories. London: Harper Collins, 1995. 14-36. Burning Chrome and Other Short Stories 14 36 Google Scholar

Hacking, Ian. Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995. Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory Google Scholar

Hopkins, Budd. Missing Time: A Documented Study of UFO Abductions. New York: Richard Marek, 1981. Missing Time: A Documented Study of UFO Abductions Google Scholar

Huyssen, Andreas. Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia. New York: Routledge, 1995. Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia Google Scholar

Kittler, Friedrich A. ‘The World of the Symbolic - A World of the Machine’. Literature, Media, Information Systems. Ed. John Johnston. Trans. Stefanie Harris. Amsterdam: Overseas Publishers, 1997. 130-46. Literature, Media, Information Systems 130 46 Google Scholar

Kittler, Friedrich A. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wultz. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter Google Scholar

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Ed. Jacques-Allain Miller. Trans. Bruce Fink. London: Norton, 1975. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge Google Scholar

Lacan, Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. Ed. Jacques-Allain Miller. Trans. Alan Sheridan. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis Google Scholar

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Landsberg, Alison. Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia UP, 2004. Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture Google Scholar

Laplanche, Jean, and J. B. Pontalis. The Language of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: Hogarth Press, 1980. The Language of Psychoanalysis Google Scholar

Leys, Ruth. Trauma: A Genealogy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000. Trauma: A Genealogy Google Scholar

Lindberg, Kathryn V. ‘Prosthetic Mnemonics and Prophylactic Politics: William Gibson among the Subjectivity Mechanisms’. boundary 2 23.2 (1996): 47-83. ‘Prosthetic Mnemonics and Prophylactic Politics: William Gibson among the Subjectivity Mechanisms’ boundary 2 23 47 83 Google Scholar

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Luckhurst, Roger. Science Fiction. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005. Science Fiction Google Scholar

Luckhurst, Roger. The Trauma Question. London: Routledge, 2008. The Trauma Question Google Scholar

McNamara, Kevin R. ‘Blade Runner's Post-individual Worldspace’. Contemporary Literature 38.3 (1997): 422-46. ‘Blade Runner's Post-individual Worldspace’ Contemporary Literature 38 422 46 Google Scholar

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Meek, Allen. Trauma and Media: Theories, Histories, and Images. London: Routledge, 2010. Trauma and Media: Theories, Histories, and Images Google Scholar

Richards, Thomas. The Imperial Archive: Knowledge and the Fantasy of Empire. London: Verso, 1993. The Imperial Archive: Knowledge and the Fantasy of Empire Google Scholar

Roberts, Adam. Science Fiction. London: Routledge, 2000. Science Fiction Google Scholar

Seltzer, Mark. Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture. New York: Routledge, 1998. Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture Google Scholar

Shetley, Vernon and Alissa Ferguson. ‘Reflections in a Silver Eye: Lens and Mirrors in Blade Runner’. Science Fiction Studies 28.1 (2001): 66-76. ‘Reflections in a Silver Eye: Lens and Mirrors in Blade Runner’ Science Fiction Studies 28 66 76 Google Scholar

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Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero Google Scholar

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine.The Science Fiction: Volume 1. 1895 London: Phoenix, 1995. 2-71. The Time Machine. The Science Fiction: Volume 1 2 71 Google Scholar

Young, Allan. The Harmony of Illusions: The Invention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995. The Harmony of Illusions: The Invention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. The Plague of Fantasies. London: Verso, 1997. The Plague of Fantasies Google Scholar

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Mousoutzanis, Aris

Mousoutzanis, Aris