May 23, 2000

From Gerald R. Lucas

Diss Notes

I think I came up with a good title for my dissertation today — at least a working title. I was reading an essay on the difference between the actual world and "possible" worlds. The former is the one we call (problematically) the real world, while the latter is not totally divorced from the real, but represents "what if" possibilities based on the laws of the actual world, like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs or the speculative computer-generated world in The Matrix. I think this stuff borders on the realm of metaphysics and will work in my third chapter. Anyway, I’m not sure how I thought of the title, but I came up with: The Coding of Posthumanism: Mut(il)ation, Trauma, and Blasphemy in Science Fiction. (I know that “science fiction” should be nuanced.)

The title also suggests an organizational model. The first chapter can address mutation in a bodily, embodied, and very physical sense by addressing Ballard's Crash. Chapter two will investigate the notion of the posthuman consciousness and the waning importance of the body (though I will show that this supposition is inaccurate) by looking at self-induced and external trauma located in Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum" and The X-Files' episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.” The third chapter will explore the metaphysical notions of virtuality based on the idea of "possible worlds" mentioned above and the various artistic representations of the virtual in literature, like Stephenson's Snow Crash and Gibson's Neuromancer. Finally, the last chapter (the conclusion) will sum up the ideas of the first three using Haraway's notion of situated knowledges and a concept of posthumanism that will be intrinsically developed throughout the diss.

Haraway’s theory of the “informatics on domination” cannot be lost in any of the diss' chapters. I will use this notion to maintain the tension and playfulness of the subject matter. The introduction will develop this idea placing it within my notions of cyberfeminism, materialism, and postmodernity.