Dissertation in Cultural Studies
First supervisor: Prof. Frank Kelleter
Second supervisor: Prof. Martin Lüthe
Third supervisor: Prof. Philipp Schweighauser
My project explores the cultural politics of intelligences in 21st-century post-apocalyptic and dystopian survival narratives. Intelligences are here most basically understood as skills, abilities, and knowledges conceptualized as relating to or deriving from mental and cerebral activity or capability, i.e. constructed to be part of human cognitive processes. The basis of my research interest is the contention that these human cognitive abilities are culturally, historically and medially constructed discursive entities, and that the historical context of neoliberal late capitalism produces them as specific forms of capital through a utilitarian valorization of all kinds of human potential. I propose the concept of the cultural politics of intelligences to analyze the power dimensions and symbolic struggles inherent in their discursive formation.
Analyzing The Hunger Games, I, Robot and The Walking Dead, I examine these narratives' specific cultural politics of intelligences in relation to neoliberal cognitive capitalism. I argue that the late capitalist cooptation of all human abilities as marketable cognitive skillsets produces intelligences as hegemonic symbolic human capital. Examining both the fictional and non-fictional negotiations of intelligences in the primary texts and the wider networks of intelligence negotiations connected to them, I position these narratives' production of intelligences in relation to cognitive capitalism. Late capitalism's cooptation of human skillsets, especially cognitive abilities, creates new discursive spaces of cognitive capitalism. I want to critically examine both the cultural politics of intelligences as they are negotiated in my primary texts and their cultural work to highlight their discursive construction and the effects of cognitive capitalism in popular cultural production.