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Supervised by

Ellie Fielding-Redpath

Research student

Ellie Fielding-Redpath

Lancaster University

County College

LA1 4YD

Lancaster

Web: https://www.instagram.com/cult_lit/

Thesis Outline

Abstract

The post-/apocalyptic fundamentally alters our present reality. It announces the end and is defined by catastrophe. Yet, by its very nature, the apocalyptic is a revelation – the unveiling of hidden truths, and a space for new beginnings. Assessing a variety of twenty-first century North American fictions, spanning a vast array of mediums – novels (The Leftovers, 2011; Vox, 2018; Gather the Daughters, 2017), televisual series (The Leftovers, 2014-2017; The Handmaid’s Tale, 2017-), films (Far Cry: Inside Eden’s Gate, 2018), videogames (Far Cry 5, 2018; Far Cry: New Eden, 2019), memoirs (Brave, 2018) – this thesis explores the pursuit of new beginnings, identifying the trope of the cult as resistor to regimes of power across the post-/apocalyptic genre.

Acknowledging the pejorative weight of the term “cult”, this thesis – whilst not conforming to anticult rhetoric – employs the stereotypes that come with such a term to challenge the creation of the “cult as threat” image (Beckford, 1985; Richardson, 1993; Robbins and Anthony, 1982). This approach draws attention to the methods by which regimes of power seek to delegitimise the voices of those who attempt to destabilise them. In exploring the trope of the cult as a form of resistance, this thesis reveals how cult representation allows fictions to deconstruct regimes of power and offer change within apocalyptic and millenarian spaces.

As a nation governed by deeply-embedded religious ideologies (Neiwert, 2017; Northcott, 2004; McLean, 2017), this thesis analyses contemporary American society: assessing the religious histories which reinforce regimes of power within the United States, before revealing how the fictional cult is employed as resistor to state (Ania, 2014; Žižek, 2010), racial (Naber, 2006; Leitner, 2012; Spivak, 2006), and gendered (McGowan, 2018) regimes of power.

This thesis shows how fictional cults highlight regimes of power, challenge their command, and act as resistors (Thompson, 1997; Žižek, 2010), offering change in the apocalyptic sense: an unveiling, a complete removal, and a rebirth.

Research Interests

My MA dissertation, "'Infected with Terrible Purpose': Alien Messianism from 1950s Science Fiction to Contemporary Adaptation' explored the critical observation that premillennial epistemologically-focused texts were adapted to be more ontologically-focused. Using messianic figures, I showed how the American science fiction genre exists as a hybrid space wherein epistemological and ontological debates can coexist.

My research interests include: speculative and future fictions; contemporary literature; American popular culture; science-fiction; adaptations; videogame theory; literature and theology; fiction as resistance. 

Supervised By

Dr Andrew Tate, Reader in Literature, Religion and Aesthetics

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  • CenSAMM

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  • Next-Gen 2019

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