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The Emancipation of the Soul

Memes of Destiny in American Mythological Television

Philipp Kneis

This book analyzes the mythological content of five television franchises within the genre of science fiction, fantasy and horror: The X-Files & Millennium, Babylon 5 & Crusade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel, Stargate and Star Trek. The central themes are errand into the wilderness, emancipation from larger powers, individual responsibility, prophecy, apocalyptic scenarios, fundamentalism, artificial intelligence, as well as hybridity, gender roles, psychotic narration, and others. The theoretical basis for this work are both a conventional cultural studies perspective as well as memetics, an evolutionary perspective of culture and literature that is utilized in this volume as an approach to studying genre at the example of the five case studies.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Foreword by Reinhard Isensee ................................................................................................................................................. 9 Preliminary Remarks: Kinds of Television ........................................................................................................................... 11 Thanks and Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................................. 14 P A R T O N E : O F M Y T H S & M E M E S ............................................................................................................... 15 1. The Mythological Genre: Religious Thought in Allegorical Television .................................................................... 17 1.1. Introduction: Scope and Outline of the Investigation .................................................................................... 17 Structure of the Book ........................................................................................................................................... 17 1.2. The Mythological Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror .......................................................................... 19 The Mythological Genre in Television .............................................................................................................. 19 The Coherence of Narrative and the Use of Mythology ................................................................................ 21 1.3. Theoretical Foundation ........................................................................................................................................ 23 Interdisciplinary Character ................................................................................................................................... 23 Memetics ................................................................................................................................................................. 23 Religion as a Natural Phenomenon .................................................................................................................... 24 2. Seeing Things Differently: A Memetic Approach to Culture ..................................................................................... 27 2.1. From Genes to Memes ......................................................................................................................................... 27 Selfish Genes, Replicators, Vehicles................................................................................................................... 27 Imitation .................................................................................................................................................................. 30 “Viruses of the Mind:” Memes as Evolving Ideas........................................................................................... 32 The Selfish Phone Meme: Technological Evolution ....................................................................................... 34 Religion from a Memetic Perspective ................................................................................................................ 35 2.2. Memetics as a Way of Seeing ............................................................................................................................... 36 Theory in Literary and Cultural Studies ............................................................................................................. 36 Authors Dead and/or Unconscious: Memetics and Post-Structuralism ..................................................... 38 Cui Bono? ............................................................................................................................................................... 39 PART TWO: CASE STUDIES .................................................................................................................................................... 41 3. Errand into the Darkness: Truth and Lies on The X-Files & Millennium .............................................................. 43 3.1. Exposition: The X-Files & Millennium ............................................................................................................. 43 3.2. Franchise-Specific Themes .................................................................................................................................. 44 The Doors of Perception at the Frontier .......................................................................................................... 44 Errand into the Wilderness .................................................................................................................................. 46 Errand into the Darkness ..................................................................................................................................... 48 Forcing the End ..................................................................................................................................................... 49 What is Religious About It? ................................................................................................................................. 50 The Truth is Out There ........................................................................................................................................ 52 Pseudoscience as Subject to Science .................................................................................................................. 53 4. Between the Darkness and the Light: Prophecy and the Self on...

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