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Title: Aristophanes, Posthumanism, and the Roots of Science Fiction
Authors: Cooper, Samuel Durham
Advisors: Holmes, Brooke
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Aristophanes
Science Fiction
Subjects: Classical studies
Comparative literature
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Previous scholars have characterized science fiction as a genre that begins either in 1600 CE, with so-called “modern science,” or in the 19th century CE, when the application of science to manufacturing processes (so-called “technoscience”) revolutionized the structure and goals of human industry and consumption. This dissertation argues that if science fiction, as a literary genre, is defined by the presence of the characteristics that Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. calls the “seven beauties of science fiction”—fictive neology, fictive novums, future history, imaginary science, the science-fictional sublime, the science-fictional grotesque, and the Technologiade—then at least three plays by the Greek comic poet Aristophanes—Clouds (423 BCE), Birds (414 BCE), and Assemblywomen (391 BCE)—may be read as science fiction. This implies that science fiction is not only a product of modern industrial societies, but also of at least one ancient agrarian society. The agrarian science fiction of Aristophanes, which is skeptical of the human pursuit of technical power and consistently highlights the possibility of unintended consequences, provides a salutary counterweight to the dreams of industrial and post-industrial science fiction that culminate in the Singularity, the apotheosis of “mechano-posthumanism,” an imaginary point in time beyond which manmade machines will transcend all limitations imposed by their creators and determine the future in accordance with their own unknowable desires. Future research employing the methods established in this dissertation may be able to demonstrate that other ancient Greco-Roman texts, such as the poetry of Empedocles, Aratus, and Lucretius; the myths of Plato; and the tales of Lucian, also belong to the category of agrarian science fiction.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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