“The issues of tomorrow are befogged”: an exploration of American science fiction from 1945-1965

Masters Thesis

Newton, J. 2019. “The issues of tomorrow are befogged”: an exploration of American science fiction from 1945-1965 . Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities
AuthorsNewton, J.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research

This thesis takes a unique approach to the study of science fiction through its analysis of different forms of travel: international, interplanetary, and through time, respectively. Looking at a broad range of science fiction encompassing comic-books, films, television, and novels belonging to 1945-1965, this study explores the use of travel in order to ascertain the significance of the genre within the larger narratives of the Cold War and the American Century. Focusing on two films released in 1954, international travel showcases divisions in attitudes to the American Century and the interconnected questions concerning the US’s place in the world. It also sparks a debate concerning issues closer to home, namely racism. Interplanetary travel serves as an extension of this commentary, using the fantastical setting of outer space to criticise or reinforce dominant attitudes within the US with a greater degree of plausible deniability. It is also used as a vehicle to more directly comment on fears relating to the Cold War such as the space race, foreign invasion, and the potential for mutually assured destruction. Lastly, analysis of time travel narratives conveys a nation pondering its place in history as it stood at the summit of the world. Broken into three sections – 1945-1950, 1950-1960, and 1960-1965 – the popularity of time travel at each of these points in time showcases a nation on a journey in considering the present, its relationship to the past, and its trajectory into the future, as it both questioned and embraced the rhetoric of the American Century. Drawing from a variety of primary and secondary sources belonging to the years from 1945-1965, this study heralds science fiction as a vessel for historical insight into popular feelings relating to both the Cold War and the often-overbearing, abstract concept of the American Century.

KeywordsScience fiction; Travel; Cold War; Racism
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Deposited04 Jun 2020
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