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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 14: Identity and Consciousness in Charlie Brooker’s Be Right Back: Lukas Schepp

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Lukas Schepp

Identity and Consciousnessin Charlie Brooker’s Be Right Back

What precisely makes us human? And can that very thing be modified, augmented, or taken away in an increasingly digitalized world? It is perhaps because it seems impossible to answer these questions in only one specific way that Charlie Brooker set up his Sci-Fi series Black Mirror as an anthology format: each episode features an independent storyline with different characters who grapple with defining various aspects of their selves. In the process, they find paradoxical, unsettling, and, very occasionally, tentatively hopeful approaches to the essential conundrum of human identity. In fact, none of the individual aspects of identity Black Mirror tackles are truly novel – memory, free will, and most importantly, consciousness have been discussed exhaustively since the very advent of philosophy. However, the show’s specific contribution to the subject matter is an examination of how the advancement of technology will influence the discourse on these topics, and thus make it even more urgent. Meanwhile, as Brooker has repeatedly emphasized, technology itself is never the real problem in any of the episodes (cf. Miller, “The Black Mirror Effect”). Instead, it merely serves as an amplifier for humanity’s inherent flaws: jealousy (The Entire History of You), overprotectiveness (Archangel), or the obsessive need for social validation (Nosedive). While the inherent dangers of these human shortcomings are obvious, Be Right Back focuses on something seemingly more harmless, yet de facto equally lethal: grief.

In Be Right Back, a...

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