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Scott Bukatman's Terminal Identity—referring to both the site of the termination of the conventional "subject" and the birth of a new subjectivity constructed at the computer terminal or television screen--puts to rest any lingering doubts of the significance of science fiction in contemporary cultural studies. Demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge, both of the history of science fiction narrative from its earliest origins, and of cultural theory and philosophy, Bukatman redefines the nature of human identity in the Information Age. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theories of the postmodern—including Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, and Jean Baudrillard—Bukatman begins with the proposition that Western culture is suffering a crisis brought on by advanced electronic technologies. Then in a series of chapters richly supported by analyses of literary texts, visual arts, film, video, television, comics, computer games, and graphics, Bukatman takes the reader on an odyssey that traces the postmodern subject from its current crisis, through its close encounters with technology, and finally to new self-recognition. This new "virtual subject," as Bukatman defines it, situates the human and the technological as coexistent, codependent, and mutally defining. Synthesizing the most provocative theories of postmodern culture with a truly encyclopedic treatment of the relevant media, this volume sets a new standard in the study of science fiction—a category that itself may be redefined in light of this work. Bukatman not only offers the most detailed map to date of the intellectual terrain of postmodern technology studies—he arrives at new frontiers, providing a propitious launching point for further inquiries into the relationship of electronic technology and culture.
The headlong rush, the rapid montage, the soaring superhero, the plunging roller coaster—Matters of Gravity focuses on the experience of technological spectacle in American popular culture over the past century. In these essays, leading media and cultural theorist Scott Bukatman reveals how popular culture tames the threats posed by technology and urban modernity by immersing people in delirious kinetic environments like those traversed by Plastic Man, Superman, and the careening astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Right Stuff. He argues that as advanced technologies have proliferated, popular culture has turned the attendant fear of instability into the thrill of topsy-turvydom, often by presenting images and experiences of weightless escape from controlled space. Considering theme parks, cyberspace, cinematic special effects, superhero comics, and musical films, Matters of Gravity highlights phenomena that make technology spectacular, permit unfettered flights of fantasy, and free us momentarily from the weight of gravity and history, of past and present. Bukatman delves into the dynamic ways pop culture imagines that apotheosis of modernity: the urban metropolis. He points to two genres, musical films and superhero comics, that turn the city into a unique site of transformative power. Leaping in single bounds from lively descriptions to sharp theoretical insights, Matters of Gravity is a deft, exhilarating celebration of the liberatory effects of popular culture.
"Hellboy, Mike Mignola's famed comic book demon hunter, wanders through a haunting and horrific world steeped in the history of weird fictions and wide-ranging folklores. Hellboy's World shows how our engagement with Hellboy is also a highly aestheticized encounter with the medium of comics and the materiality of the book. Scott Bukatman's dynamic study explores how comics produce a heightened 'adventure of reading' in which syntheses of image and word, image sequences, and serial narratives create compelling worlds for the reader's imagination to inhabit. In Mignola's work, the imaginative space that exists on the page and within the book becomes a self-aware meditation upon the imaginative space of page and book. To understand the mechanics of creating a world on the page, Bukatman draws upon other media--including children's books, sculpture, pulp fiction, cinema, graphic design, painting, and illuminated manuscripts. Hellboy's World delves into shared fictional universes and occult detection, the riotous colors of comics that elude rationality and control, horror and the evocation of the sublime, and the place of abstraction in Mignola's art to demonstrate the pleasurable and multiple complexities of the reader's experience. Monsters populate the world of Hellboy comics, but Hellboy's World argues that comics are themselves little monsters, unruly sites of sensory and cognitive pleasures that exist, happily, on the margins. The book is not only a treat for Hellboy fans but will entice anyone interested in the medium of comics and the art of reading"--Provided by publisher.

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