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The Representation of Surveillance in Dystopian Fiction of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

Hinchliffe, Jade L. (2019) The Representation of Surveillance in Dystopian Fiction of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

Over the last few decades, scholars from a variety of disciplines have come together to contribute to the field of Surveillance Studies, which explores the relationship between humans and surveillance technology. Traditionally, this field has been dominated by the social sciences with little contribution from the humanities.In the last few years, however, this has begun to change as the importance of the humanities, and literature especially, to the discipline has been acknowledged. The relationship between humans and surveillance has been continually explored in dystopian literature and film since the twentieth century, as surveillance technology has become an important part of human existence. Dystopian fiction frequently engages with the subject of surveillance as this genre is inherently political and concerned with issues such as autonomy, identity and power struggles. This thesis will bring together dystopian fiction, surveillance theory, critical posthumanism, biopower and spatial geography. In the following analysis, it will become apparent how dystopian fiction can provide original ways of conceptualising how the human body and society as a collective can be controlled and manipulated through surveillance methods, which collapse the boundaries between the public and private spheres. Dystopian fiction from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries will be analysed in chronological order, alongside surveillance theory, in order to establish how each text builds on images and metaphors from previous novels to create a palimpsest of dystopian references regarding surveillance. The literary texts will also be examined using a spatial framework that investigates the portrayal of surveillance technology in public spaces (the city and the work place) and private spaces (the home and the body). This will establish how the boundaries between the public and the private spheres, as well as the societal body and the individual body, are collapsed, in the novels, through surveillance methods, which result in individuals being increasingly monitored and controlled. Contrary to what many surveillance theorists suggest, this thesis will argue that digital technology did not cause surveillance methods to become more fluid, decentralised and participatory; it did, however, cause an intensification of these surveillance methods which were already in place. The frightening conclusion, in the novels, that surveillance technology results in humans becoming more susceptible to control and manipulation through their participation in surveillance practices causes the reader to examine the role of surveillance technology in their own lives; this examination, paradoxically, suggests hope for a future that does not resemble a dystopian nightmare.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Rebecca Hill
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2019 08:53
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2020 01:38
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34895

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