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Artificial Aliens: Reproductive Imaginations in German Culture

  • Author(s): Orich, Annika
  • Advisor(s): Göktürk, Deniz
  • et al.

This dissertation, titled “Artificial Aliens: Reproductive Imaginations in German Culture,” studies how reproductive processes in biology and the arts evoke similar cultural anxieties, and how they, in turn, are shaped by these same fears. I view and investigate reproduction in biology and the arts as related processes, specifically those conducted via artificial means. My dissertation examines this relationship by tracing artificial aliens as a point of connection across disciplines, media, and periods. The figure of the artificial alien appears as artificial human, othered stranger, alien lifeform, and cinematic image. I develop my argument via several case studies, ranging from Weimar silent films such as Otto Rippert’s Homunculus (1916/1920) and Henrik Galeen’s Alraune (1927/1928) to Frank Schätzing’s science fiction bestseller Der Schwarm (2004) to Netflix’s original series Sense8 (2015-). I argue that there exists a complex dynamic between reproductive processes in biology and the arts and discourses on memory, identity, and media and its archaeology. This project thus contributes to existing research on the interplay between science and fiction. I argue that reproductive imaginations play a crucial role in self-conceptions of the human species. The (im)materiality of the cinematic image is key to rethinking the nature/culture divide. My project therefore highlights circulation and cross-fertilization between the sciences and the humanities.

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