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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33821

Title: Theories of the Fantastic: Postmodernism, Game Theory, and Modern Physics
Authors: Pike, Karen
Advisor: Hutcheon, Linda
Department: Comparative Literature
Keywords: fantastic
postmodern
game theory
modern physics
quantum theory
Issue Date: 5-Dec-2012
Abstract: ABSTRACT “Theories of the Fantastic: Postmodernism, Game Theory, and Modern Physics” Karen Pike Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (2010) Centre for Comparative Literature University of Toronto This dissertation examines the fantastic mode of narrative as it appears in postmodern texts in a variety of media including literature, television, and film. By analyzing the kinds of changes which the fantastic mode has undergone in order to accommodate postmodern concerns, this project attempts to answer both how and why the fantastic has maintained its popularity and effectiveness. The first chapter seeks to define the fantastic mode by tracing the history of its definition from the early twentieth century up until the present. In doing so, it revisits the contributions of such analysts as Vax, Caillois, Todorov, and Freud. The second chapter discusses the changes to conventions demanded by postmodern discursive strategies, many of which include a back-and-forth movement between equally valid interpretations of the text. A discussion of Armin Ayren’s “Der Brandstifter,” a comparison of a recurring X-Files sub-plot to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and an analysis of an intentionally self-reflexive episode of The X-Files demonstrate these changes. The third chapter introduces game theory as a way of understanding the back-and-forth movement typical of the fantastic mode. Hanns Heinz Ewers’s “Die Spinne” is used to illustrate the psychoanalytical aspect of this movement. The next chapter compares and contrasts three vampire films, The Addiction, Lair of the White Worm, and Nadja, in order to demonstrate how the degree to which this back-and-forth movement is present is an indicator of how successfully the fantastic effect emerges. The fifth chapter introduces modern physics as another mode for understanding the presence of the fantastic mode in the postmodern era. The analysis of House of Leaves in the final chapter illustrates how postmodern theory, game theory, and physics all work together to explain the fantastic’s effectiveness. This dissertation’s aim is to explain how and why a mode once defined as a specific nineteenth-century phenomenon keeps reinventing itself and re-emerging to continue to frighten and entertain us.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33821
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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