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Human by Design: Bodily Prosthetics and the Rhetoric of Science Fiction Cool

Maradin, Nicholas (2017) Human by Design: Bodily Prosthetics and the Rhetoric of Science Fiction Cool. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Science fiction deals with questions concerning the effects of new technologies on society. Science fiction also encompasses a mode of visual representation that depicts what the technologies of the future will look like. This dissertation argues that these images have a broader rhetorical function in popular culture, influencing the meanings, attitudes, and values associated with new technologies based on the extent to which they resemble the function and form of their imagined science fiction analogues. This rhetoric of science fiction cool has become prominent in the marketing for bodily prosthetics and their representations in popular culture, emphasizing the perceived similarities between advanced “bionic” prosthetic limbs and their fictional versions. In recent years, the notion of having an artificial limb has come to be portrayed as a positive—and even enviable—characteristic, centering around the potential of prosthetic limbs to be customized, decorated, and swapped out for more sophisticated versions in order to more closely resemble those featured in science fiction. Paying special attention to what happens to the rhetoric of bionic limbs when they are presented through a sci-fi lens, this dissertation examines the intimate role science fiction plays in influencing cultural attitudes towards technology as well as how the aesthetic and functional qualities of these technologies are used to frame ethical arguments about their use.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maradin, Nicholasnrm29@pitt.eduNRM29
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMalin,
Committee MemberWeis,
Committee MemberOlson,
Committee MemberKuchinskaya,
Date: 29 June 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 March 2017
Approval Date: 29 June 2017
Submission Date: 11 April 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 325
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prosthetics, Science Fiction, Robotics, Bionics, Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric, Media Studies, Art, Design, Fashion, Technology and Culture
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 14:53
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2022 05:15


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