Julia Grafenberger

Department English and American Studies
PhD Supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Coelsch-Foisner
PhD Co-Supervisor tba
Start Winter semester 2013/14
Contact julia.grafenberger@stud.sbg.ac.at
Topic/Title (De-)Constructing Humanity – Characters in Cyberpunk

Abstract

In my dissertation I want to examine major characters of Anglo-American cyberpunk and their lives in the face of technological advances. The focus will be on how the effects of medialisation have changed fundamental human concepts and the inner lives of the characters also exploring new forms of existence such as human analogs, artificial intelligences or cyborgs. What is also crucial is the question whether these new forms of existence can be called characters and how they challenge traditional concepts prevalent in character studies and narratology. The fact that there are only a few studies dealing with cyberpunk characters and aspects of their inner lives shows the need for a study depicting these characters also analyzing narratological strategies employed to represent them. The thematic focus comprises three major parts: language and narrative techniques, character types as well as methods of representation. Furthermore, a recurring topic will be the comparison of fundamental human elements (e.g. body, identity, memory, etc.) to new technological possibilities (e.g. body modifications, memory implants, removable organs, etc.). Cyberpunk will be conceived of as a literary movement within the broader realms of science fiction. A combination of narratology and character criticism should allow for a detailed analysis of the characters and their changing lives. Through the exploration of the lives of cyberpunk characters in a world saturated with medialisation, in which fundamental human concepts such as personal experience, emotions or memory are erased, the study wants to clarify whether there are still human elements prevalent or everything has succumbed to the power and omnipresence of technology. Finally, the study aims at providing answers as to whether and why human elements are still necessary in a medialised world, in which technology offers seemingly infinite possibilities for a proper life and how these human aspects differ from an existence depending on technological devices which is merely artificial.

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