Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Patricia Chu

Second Advisor

Kir Kuiken

Abstract

Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein and Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell films (1995 and 2004) were both created in times of great upheaval in scientific communities, and show that the further away we get from the organic body, the harder it becomes to articulate what is specifically human through dualisms. Shelley was writing during a period of secularization. Human identity and relations were no longer strictly based on one’s relationship to God or one’s family’s standing. Oshii’s work comes in the midst of the arrival of the new digital age. Medical enhancements and the proliferation of communication technologies such as the internet have allowed technology to become integrated with people’s daily lives. Like Shelley, Oshii uses the idea of unnatural (re)production to illustrate one outcome of digital life with cyborgs. In both Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, inspiration from posthumanist theorist Donna Haraway is present in Oshii’s conception of the cyborg and the cyborg world. Haraway sees cyborgs in a world of the “ambiguously natural and crafted” meaning that there is confusion between what simply is and what is constructed. Both Shelley and Oshii use these non-human creatures to question the naturalization of the human concept, its status, and its reliance on the organic body. Through the posthuman identities explored in these texts along with new conceptions of the body and the individual introduced, one can find a blurred relationship between the human and non-human in the lack of a “natural” human subject.

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