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


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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