Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Klaver, Elizabeth

Abstract

Because cities act as the primary site for the development and production of new technologies, they arguably act as crossing points into the growing digital environment. As information technologies such as computers, digital networks, and most specifically the Internet become normalized within American culture, a need arises to examine the impact these technologies have on those who use them. Science fiction texts often explore technological influence on the human body, social relationships, and developing culture, and typically utilize cities as settings for this exploration. An examination of four primary science fiction texts, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, William Gibson's Neuromancer, the Wachowskis' The Matrix, and M.T. Anderson's Feed, and the connections they draw between cities and cyberspace reveal not only an ongoing ambivalent relationship between humans and the technology they create, but also a concern for the growing power of that technology's influence. Louis Wirth's observations of the early twentieth century city serve as a guide in looking at digital cityscapes first as structural, then as social, and finally as points of direct influence on human identity within these texts, suggesting mirrored concerns not only within American culture, but the global digital culture that is forming as a result of the connectivity offered by digital information technologies.

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