Human versus where? : navigating the survival space in the 21st century American survival film
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This thesis navigates the contents, patterns, limitations and renegotiations of the filmic survival space in 21st century American film. Defined as the audio-visual wilderness environment in which the human becomes trapped, the survival space withers the human body, and prevents communication and escape. In interrogating this survival terra incognito, the thesis identifies ‘survival’ as a distinct, contemporary, and uniquely American, genre, one that extends beyond cinema and across several media platforms. This thesis necessarily traverses media forms, placing a variety of survival media in dialogue with film. Beginning with Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000), the influential, benchmark hit that established a model for the survival space in the 21st century, I examine how subsequent survival films, television shows, video games and internet spaces respond to, update, and adapt this model and, in so doing, position survival as a multi-media phenomenon. This genre – and the spaces within it – require critical attention today, not least because they function as a highly visible cultural response to questions and anxieties within 21st century America. These spaces, which are developed in the post 2000s American survival film, respond to, and articulate, common cultural anxieties whether concerning the fragility of our bodies in the technological era, our agency in and outside a rapidly progressing capitalist society or the fraught relationship between humankind and the natural environment. In working through what survival means today, the contemporary American survival film popularises a discourse of survival; one that questions not only how to survive, live and thrive today, but also where this can take place, ultimately making survival a spatial concern.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2025-09-30
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 30th September 2025
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