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Changing humanity: a study of four dystopias at the dawn of the biotechnological age

Basile, D; (2016) Changing humanity: a study of four dystopias at the dawn of the biotechnological age. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis analyses two British and two German technological dystopias published between the First and Second World Wars: Konrad Loele’s Züllinger und seine Zucht (1920), John Bernard’s The New Race of Devils (1921), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), and Paul Gurk’s Tuzub 37 (1935). While there has been a considerable amount of scholarly research into interwar British dystopias, German texts have rarely been analysed; furthermore, dystopian studies have often focused on a small number of novels that were considered canonical and particularly influential. This thesis compares Huxley’s canonical Brave New World with Bernard’s less known The New Race of Devils and the two German texts, reading all of them from the standpoint of the early twentieth-century crisis of the traditional notion of humanism. Chapter 1 focuses on the two earlier novels and on their portrayal of the creation of ‘perfect’ workers and soldiers with the use of eugenics. Chapter 2 centres on the two later novels and on their depiction of a completely mechanized World State where citizens are mass produced and incapable of independent thought. The thesis shows that the four dystopias envision a radical change in the nature of men and women as a result of the mechanization of society, and concludes that they all speculate on the future of the human race once the traditional conceptualization of humanity has been destroyed by contemporary technology. Loele’s and Bernard’s texts introduce the idea of a partly artificial ‘eugenic liminal being’ who is difficult to fit into the established taxonomy of living beings. Huxley and Gurk highlight how the inhabitants of the technocracy will not be capable of meaningful action and traditional rebellion will become impossible. The four texts prove more radical than other contemporary technological dystopias and anticipate some of the most important issues of late twentieth-century posthumanism.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Changing humanity: a study of four dystopias at the dawn of the biotechnological age
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1492968
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