University of Leicester
2020MCMILLANCTFPhD.pdf (7.27 MB)

Altered Bodies, Changing Identities, Shifting Power: Trans/Posthumanism and the Reproduction of Humanity in Film and Video Game Fandom

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posted on 2020-07-16, 10:20 authored by Callum T. F. McMillan
This thesis investigates the theories of transhumanism and posthumanism, the former dealing with radically changing bodies and minds, and the latter with the nature of humanity itself. It examines how these theories are rapidly growing and gaining more exposure in both today’s media (specifically, video games and science fiction (SF) screen media, two likely platforms for such work), and the minds of their fans: the so called ‘geek fandom’ that follows this type of media with a passion. The literature review lays the groundwork for this research, following the early days of humanist thought, the birth of ‘anthropocentrism’, and the history of transhuman and posthumanist thought from ancient times through to the modern day. In addition, this thesis tracks the ways in which video games and science fiction scholarship has developed, alongside research methods for both, in order to provide context to the case studies I have created: two for video games, (Xenoblade Chronicles/Xenoblade Chronicles X) and one for SF screen (EX_MACHINA). Empirically, this thesis is triangulated with developer interviews and comments, together with the fan culture study, which provides the base for the primary research. This includes interviews with ‘lay’ fans and experts in various fields alike, which allowed for a great sample diversity. In fact, it is from the latter that the three key themes for this work emerge: ‘body’, ‘identity’ and ‘power’. These themes allow for a unique theoretical framing of trans/posthuman ideology, analysing the depth of popularised themes. Ultimately, with SF as a powerful disseminator of themes and video games as an interactive, responsive medium, these two media types and the fandom surrounding them make an excellent case for the rapid growth of trans/posthuman ideas. Ultimately, this thesis provides a rich triangulated analysis on a constantly shifting and changing scholarship on the current state of popular culture, and especially that of fandom.



Athina Karatzogianni; Anna Claydon

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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