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Unit 3. Aliens and Monsters

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					Unit 3. Aliens and Monsters
  1. Science fiction: history
• Response to „scientific world
  view‟: „scientist‟ coined 1840
• Roots in Enlightenment project (Dr
  Faustus 1588)
2. Science fiction:characteristics

• Rational/quasi-scientific
  explanation of events – „factual‟
  style
• Projection of future or alternative
  history
• Social criticism
       Frankenstein (1818)
• Scientist usurping functions of
  nature/woman
• Biological mutation/threat of alien
  „invasion‟
• Travel to other worlds
• Doubling/splitting of identity
• Sexuality repressed but central
  Science fiction and identity
• Emphasis on cognition
• Science= knowledge, logic, the rational
• Emphasis on mastery through
  knowing/defining/naming
• Ideology of scientific
  positivism/capitalist imperialism
BUT
• Emphasis on incoherence/the alien/the
  inexplicable
• Move towards fragmentation of the self
• Social critique (scientist/corporation as
  villain)
  Science fiction and gender
• Science/technology/reason/mastery/naming/
  conquest/dominance is a gendered cluster
• „the other‟ (alien/irrational/unnameable/
  incoherent/monstrous) as feminine
• Freud on She (Rider Haggard 1887):
  „a strange book, but full of hidden meaning
  …the eternal feminine…She describes an
  adventurous road that had scarcely even
  been trodden before, leading into an
  undiscovered region.‟ (Interpretation of
  Dreams)
She (Rider Haggard 1887):
„…Smaller she grew, and smaller yet, until she was no
  larger than a monkey. Now the skin had puckered
  into a million wrinkles, and on her shapeless face
  was the stamp of unutterable age. I never saw
  anything like it; nobody ever saw anything to equal
  the infinite age which was graven on that fearful
  countenance, no bigger now than that of a two-
  months‟ child, though the skull retained its same
  size; and let all men pray they never shall, if they
  wish to keep their reason.
       ‘At last she lay still, or only moving feebly. She,
  who but two minutes gone had gazed upon us – the
  loveliest, noblest, most splendid woman the world
  has ever seen – she lay still before us, near the
  masses of her own dark hair, no larger than a big
  ape, and hideous – ah, too hideous for words! And
  yet, think of this – at that very moment I thought of it
  – it was the same woman!‟
• the maternal as „abject‟
• use of the monstrous/alien/other to
  deny, exclude and contain the
  „feminine‟ elements of „masculine‟ self

So room for:
• an ideological reading
• a psychoanalytic reading
        Ideological reading
• collapse of belief in Enlightenment
  project
• contesting of of dominant Western
  grouping (white/male/heterosexual/
  capitalist) by „others‟ incl. Feminism
• attempts to incorporate „acceptable‟
  elements of challengers
• whilst projecting as „other‟ the
  unacceptable
• resulting fear and anxiety
    Psychoanalytic reading
• dream/fantasy/condensation/displacem
  ent
• sexuality/sexual difference repressed
  but returning through mise-en-scene,
  narrative, the alien monster.
• Sobchack: astronauts „signify a
  conquering, potent, masculine &
  autonomous technology which values
  production over reproduction.‟
    Reclaiming Reproductive
          Subjectivity?
• Donna Haraway: „cyborg feminism‟:
• „I would rather be a cyborg than a
  goddess.‟
• Susan Bordo, „Are mothers persons?‟:
• Male model of subjectivity „challenged
  by an embodiment that literally houses
  “otherness” within the self‟
Christine Battersby, The Phenomenal
  Woman: female subject position
  exhibits:
• capacity to give birth
• positioned within unequal power
  relations
• no sharp division between self and
  other
• identity in embodiment
• identity linked to the monstrous
Alien 1979    USA/GB
dir. Ridley Scott
Aliens 1986 USA
Dir. James Cameron
Alien 3 1992 USA
Dir. David Fincher
Alien Resurrection 1997 USA
Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

				
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posted:12/1/2011
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