The Extraterrestrial in US Culture

by Harrison, Mark Lowery

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation provides a cultural analysis of the figure of the extraterrestrial in US culture. The sites through which the extraterrestrial appears -- spiritualism, so-called space brother religions, unidentified flying objects, and alien abduction -- are understood as elements of an ongoing displaced utopian imaginary. This mode of utopian thought is characterized by recourse to figures of radical alterity (spirits of the dead, ascended masters, and the gray) as agents of radical social change; by its homologies with contemporaneous political currents; and through its invocation of trance states for counsel from the various others imagined as primary agents of change. Ultimately, the dissertation argues that the extraterrestrial functions as the locus both for the resolution of tensions between the spiritual and the material and for the projection of a perfected subject into a utopian future.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Carol Stabile; Jonathan Arac; Jonathan Sterne; Bill Fusfield

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:communication rhetoric and


Date of Publication:06/02/2006

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