[Spektre] Fwd: Väitöstilaisuus pe 9.9. klo 12 Helsingin yliopistossa / Doctoral disputation: The Cowboy Politics of an Enlightened Future: History, Expansionism, and Guardianship in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction

Liisa Rantalaiho Liisa.Rantalaiho at uta.fi
Mon Aug 29 16:42:11 EEST 2016


HUOM!

----- Välitetty viesti lähettäjältä jkakela at mappi.helsinki.fi -----
       Päiväys: Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:23:10 +0300
     Lähettäjä: jkakela at mappi.helsinki.fi
       Otsikko: Väitöstilaisuus pe 9.9. klo 12 Helsingin yliopistossa  
/ Doctoral disputation: The Cowboy Politics of an Enlightened Future:  
History, Expansionism, and Guardianship in Isaac Asimov’s Science  
Fiction
Vastaanottaja: KTS at uta.fi, scifi-res at helsinki.fi,  
fty-tohtorikoulutettavat at helsinki.fi, eng-postgrad at helsinki.fi

Tieteiskirjallisuuteen liittyvä väitöstilaisuuteni järjestetään reilun  
viikon päästä Helsingin yliopistossa. Tervetuloa! Viestiä saa vapaasti  
välittää eteenpäin.

Scroll down for information in English.

***

FM Jari Käkelä väittelee 9.9.2016 kello 12 Helsingin yliopiston  
humanistisessa tiedekunnassa aiheesta "The Cowboy Politics of an  
Enlightened Future: History, Expansionism, and Guardianship in Isaac  
Asimov’s Science Fiction" (Valistuneen tulevaisuuden  
cowboy-politiikkaa: historiatietoisuuden, ekspansionismin ja  
ihmiskunnan ohjailun tematiikka Isaac Asimovin  
tieteiskirjallisuudessa). Väitöstilaisuus järjestetään osoitteessa  
Yliopiston päärakennus, auditorium XII, vanha puoli, Fabianinkatu 33.

Vastaväittäjänä on professori Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway University  
of London) ja kustoksena toimii professori Bo Pettersson.

Väitöskirja on myös elektroninen julkaisu ja luettavissa E-thesis  
-palvelussa: https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/166004

Lisätietoa: jari.kakela at helsinki.fi

***

Jari Käkelä, FM, will defend his doctoral dissertation entitled "The  
Cowboy Politics of an Enlightened Future: History, Expansionism, and  
Guardianship in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction" in the Faculty of  
Arts, University of Helsinki, on Friday 9 September 2016 at 12:00. The  
public examination will take place at the University of Helsinki Main  
building, auditorium XII, Fabianinkatu 33.

Professor Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway University of London) will  
serve as the opponent, and Professor Bo Pettersson as the custos.

The dissertation is also available in electronic form through the  
E-thesis service: https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/166004

***

ABSTRACT
The Cowboy Politics of an Enlightened Future: History, Expansionism,  
and Guardianship in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was one of the central writers in the  
formative period of American science fiction, and among the first to  
emphasize the societal and political importance of the genre. This  
dissertation examines the themes of history, frontier expansionism,  
and guardianship in Asimov's key works, the Robot and Foundation  
series, in order to view his influence on the development of science  
fiction when it started to distance itself from pulp fiction and  
refine its key tropes and themes.

A significant part of Asimov's Robot and Foundation stories were first  
published as serials in the 1940s and 1950s Astounding Science-Fiction  
magazine, and the pulp publishing context is crucial in order to  
understand Asimov's impact on the genre. Thus, this dissertation  
combines the contextual examination of Asimov's main themes with a  
discussion of the views of the Astounding magazine editor, John W.  
Campbell, Jr., a key influence on Asimov's work. Moreover, the present  
study extends to Asimov's 1980s novels that combine much of his  
fiction into a unified grand narrative of future history.

My claim is that in Asimov's series the need to understand history in  
order to construct a sustainable future becomes the pivotal theme,  
both on the level of narration and on the level of characters that  
turn their knowledge of history into action. This awareness of  
history, I contend, leads to the recurrent realization that human  
culture will decline if stagnation is not reversed by frontier  
expansion. The pervasive frontier theme and the role of individual  
heroes in Asimov's work also reflect the Western backdrop of American  
pulp fiction. In this way, it demonstrates the science fiction genre's  
shift from cowboy heroes of Western fiction to problem-solving  
engineers on the intellectual frontier of the future. Finally, the  
historical and frontier aspects in Asimov's series point toward the  
notion of guardianship and the aspiration to apply the understanding  
of both history and science to engineer a more peaceful, yet  
non-stagnant future. Throughout his career, then, Asimov displays a  
tension between a utopian desire and the pragmatic and  
techno-meritocratic solutions typical to Campbell s stable of writers.

Thus, although Asimov's series is usually taken as straightforward  
prose fiction that focuses on solutions and explanations, this  
dissertation demonstrates its central tensions, which also serve to  
highlight the development of the science fiction genre. The readings  
presented make visible the ambiguous strains between Asimov's cyclical  
models of history and his admiration of the Enlightenment ideal of  
progression, between individual freedom and the notion of  
guardianship, as well as between pragmatism and utopia. Informed by  
American history, Asimov's series portrays how individuals make bold  
maneuvers in order to steer humankind toward a more sustainable  
future, thus engaging in what could be termed the cowboy politics of  
an enlightened future.

For more information, contact Jari Käkelä, jari.kakela at helsinki.fi

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