BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Strange children: childhood, utopianism, science fiction

    Stone, Katie McGregor (2021) Strange children: childhood, utopianism, science fiction. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    [img] Text
    Katie Stone - PhD Thesis Final Submission.pdf - Full Version
    Restricted to Repository staff only until 26 August 2023.

    Download (1MB)


    In this thesis I explore the role played by childhood within science fiction (SF). My focus is on the utopian politics of the genre and how SF creators’ various appeals to the figure of the child can be usefully read through the utopian philosophy of Ernst Bloch. Although childhood is not frequently identified as a central concern of the genre, I work to establish the ways in which Bloch’s association of childhood with the act of curiously investigating a not yet existent future shines a light on the utopianism of SF. The child, who is new to the world and to whom the world is new, is shown to be well placed to aid in the exploration of the strange new worlds of SF texts. Each chapter is structured around an aspect of Bloch’s thought which pertains to the child’s role within SF. My analysis moves from a discussion of utopian curiosity, to the non-linear temporalities which the child, who evokes both the past and future, makes thinkable, and on to an exploration of the utopian potential of childish hunger and the radical possibilities of utopian inheritance. In each chapter I pair Bloch’s writing with that of some of his key interlocutors, meaning that my thesis draws on the fields of Marxist SF criticism, decolonial thought, queer temporality theory, trans utopianism, anti-work feminism and black feminist praxis. I also take a broad approach to SF, putting work by writers such as H. G. Wells and Pauline Hopkins into conversation with queer utopianism of the 1970s, and the amorphous field of vampire fiction. In this way I aim to demonstrate that childhood is not a niche interest for a small subset of SF authors, but rather can be understood as a utopian tool available to readers working across the genre.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2021 15:48
    Last Modified: 01 Dec 2021 07:21


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item