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The aesthetics of enclosure: dystopia and dispossession in the 1980s Hollywood science-fiction film

The aesthetics of enclosure: dystopia and dispossession in the 1980s Hollywood science-fiction film
The aesthetics of enclosure: dystopia and dispossession in the 1980s Hollywood science-fiction film
As an increasing body of historical and economic scholarship attests, the processes Marx placed under the heading of ‘primitive accumulation’, and which he saw as the precondition of capitalism, continue today in a particularly intense form. If Marx’s main example in Capital, Volume 1 (1867) was the enclosure of English land from the late fifteenth century, now scholars can point to the expansion of intellectual property rights, the privatisation of water and other public services, the sale of the US national forests, the imposition of ‘structural adjustment programmes’, and the war in Afghanistan as so many ‘new enclosures’—efforts to bring ever greater zones of human activity within the ambit of capitalist production. Yet what remains unexamined in this still-growing literature is how the new enclosures have been represented in the sphere of culture. Have cultural forms been able to register these new expropriations? If so, how have they depicted a process that is pervasive, but whose forms of appearance are so diverse? This thesis endeavours to answer such questions through the analysis of five major Hollywood science-fiction films of the 1980s: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983), and Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990). It argues that, taken together, these films develop an ‘aesthetic of enclosure’: a series of representational strategies that make enclosure visible. Typically understood by scholars as a critical and historicising genre, the science-fiction film is well positioned to detect, examine, and challenge capitalism’s renewed efforts to privatise and dispossess.
University of Southampton
Warwick, Harry
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Warwick, Harry
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Hammond, Michael
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Williams, Linda R
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Hanson, Clair
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Warwick, Harry (2018) The aesthetics of enclosure: dystopia and dispossession in the 1980s Hollywood science-fiction film. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 189pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

As an increasing body of historical and economic scholarship attests, the processes Marx placed under the heading of ‘primitive accumulation’, and which he saw as the precondition of capitalism, continue today in a particularly intense form. If Marx’s main example in Capital, Volume 1 (1867) was the enclosure of English land from the late fifteenth century, now scholars can point to the expansion of intellectual property rights, the privatisation of water and other public services, the sale of the US national forests, the imposition of ‘structural adjustment programmes’, and the war in Afghanistan as so many ‘new enclosures’—efforts to bring ever greater zones of human activity within the ambit of capitalist production. Yet what remains unexamined in this still-growing literature is how the new enclosures have been represented in the sphere of culture. Have cultural forms been able to register these new expropriations? If so, how have they depicted a process that is pervasive, but whose forms of appearance are so diverse? This thesis endeavours to answer such questions through the analysis of five major Hollywood science-fiction films of the 1980s: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983), and Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990). It argues that, taken together, these films develop an ‘aesthetic of enclosure’: a series of representational strategies that make enclosure visible. Typically understood by scholars as a critical and historicising genre, the science-fiction film is well positioned to detect, examine, and challenge capitalism’s renewed efforts to privatise and dispossess.

Text
WARWICK Aesthetics of Enclosure - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 30 June 2021.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

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Published date: June 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427159
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427159
PURE UUID: 2d237746-459f-4252-b7d0-a73606879973

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Date deposited: 03 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:50

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Contributors

Author: Harry Warwick
Thesis advisor: Michael Hammond
Thesis advisor: Linda R Williams
Thesis advisor: Clair Hanson

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