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Cinema and Media Studies Star Trek
by
Daniel Bernardi, Michael Green

Introduction

Few popular narratives in recent history have generated as much cultural material as Star Trek: six television series and eleven feature films, as well as novels, comic books, video and role-playing games, conventions, websites, and fan fictions. In other words, Star Trek is more than just a television show and feature film franchise. The Making of Star Trek (1968), by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, was among the first trade books in what would also become a Star Trek publishing juggernaut. Hundreds of popular novels, nonfiction monographs, and essays have been published over the last five decades, from the Star Trek Encyclopedia (1997) to The Klingon Hamlet (2000), a version of Shakespeare’s play written entirely in the fan-created language of one of the most popular alien species represented in the Trek mega-text. Scholarly interest in Star Trek gained momentum a decade after the original series (TOS) was cancelled by NBC in 1969. Indeed, Star Trek was becoming a phenomenon around the same time that cultural studies, critical theory, and film and media studies were evolving in the academy. The original show and its spin-offs used casting, metaphors (aliens), and allegories (wars between worlds) to engage in controversial social issues, including racism, gender equality, the “nature” of sexual identity, nationalism, and colonialism, among other contentious subjects—which happened to also be the subjects of new critical inquiry. In the 1990s, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) solidified the fan following of the Star Trek narrative around the time that audience and reception studies began to compete with textual analysis as a preferred critical mode of study. Spearheaded by Henry Jenkins, fan and audience studies have become a primary area of Star Trek scholarship in particular, and of film and media studies more generally. Important critical Trek analysis has emerged from other disciplines as well, including sociology, political science, history, religion, and philosophy. This bibliography represents a cross section of the most important scholarship on this unique cultural phenomenon.

Reference Works and Bibliographies

Many popular Star Trek reference works are aimed at fans and general readers, including Gibberman 1991, a comprehensive guide. The website The Complete Starfleet Library informally catalogs academic books as well as popular nonfiction works and novels. Both are especially good sources for academics researching primary texts. Geraghty 2002, a thorough bibliography, draws upon the author’s expertise as a Star Trek scholar, as well as his knowledge of science fiction studies in general.

  • The Complete Starfleet Library.

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    Not a formal or scholarly bibliography, but a trove of texts for researchers, organized both by year and genre. Researchers can find novels, scripts, fan guides, graphic novels, biographies, episode guides, and collectibles guides, among many other categories, dating back to 1967.

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    • Geraghty, Lincoln. “Reading on the Frontier: A Star Trek Bibliography.” Extrapolation 43.3 (Fall 2002): 288–315.

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      An extensive bibliography that includes a great deal of scholarly and popular Star Trek sources published from 1967 to 2002, as well as some citations on related Star Trek subjects such as fandom and science fiction studies.

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    • Gibberman, Susan R. Star Trek: An Annotated Guide to the Resources on the Development, the Phenomenon, the People, the Television Series, the Films, the Novels, and the Recordings. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1991.

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      Entries on various sources, mostly popular, relating to Star Trek, and organized by subject: novels, reviews, directors, and so on. Though the guide goes only through 1991, it is still remarkable for its scope and detail, with more than 1,300 entries. A valuable initial resource for researchers.

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    Anthologies

    These critical anthologies represent the diversity of Star Trek scholarship. Chaires and Chilton 2004 examines Star Trek in terms of law and scholarship; Eberl and Decker 2008 in terms of philosophy; Kapell 2010 in terms of myth; Porter and McLaren 1999 in terms of religion; Geraghty 2007 in terms of media and popular culture; and Harrison, et al. 1996 in terms of race, gender, and sexuality studies. Hines 1995 is a special issue of the journal Extrapolation that focuses exclusively on the relationship between Star Trek and Shakespeare. Many of the articles contained in these volumes are by noted Star Trek scholars.

    • Chaires, Robert, and Bradley Chilton, eds. Star Trek: Visions of Law and Justice. Dallas: Adios Press, 2004.

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      Examines the representation of law and justice in Star Trek, analyzing the series as an allegory for contemporaneous times and a utopian vision for a more just future.

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    • Eberl, Jason T., and Kevin S. Decker, eds. Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant. Chicago: Open Court, 2008.

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      Sections include “Major Philosophical Themes in Star Trek,” “Federation Ethics,” “Social and Religious Values of the Future,” and “Metaphysical Conundrums.”

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    • Geraghty, Lincoln, ed. The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

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      Includes essays by noted Star Trek scholars such as Ina Rae Hark, Donald E. Palumbo, and Karen Anijar. Valuable as a reflective analysis examining Star Trek after the end of the final series, Enterprise, and before the reboot of the movie franchise in 2009.

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    • Harrison, Taylor, Sarah Projansky, Kent A. Ono, and Elyce Rae Helford, eds. Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on Star Trek. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996.

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      A seminal volume of criticism, released in 1996 when Star Trek: The Next Generation was at the height of its popularity. The volume contains a number of trenchant articles on identity, power, and resistance.

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    • Hines, Susan C., ed. Special Issue: Star Trek and Shakespeare. Extrapolation 36.1 (1995).

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      Contributors such as Stephen Buhler, Emily Hegarty, and David Reinheimer analyze the relationship between Star Trek and Shakespeare. Among other arguments are that Star Trek uses Shakespeare as a way to confer upon itself “highbrow” cultural authority.

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    • Kapell, Matthew Wilhelm, ed. Star Trek as Myth: Essays on Symbol and Archetype at the Final Frontier. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

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      Looks at how Star Trek has evolved into a modern American myth. Includes new work by the editor and others as well as reprinted articles considered seminal by scholars in the field.

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    • Porter, Jennifer E., and Darcee L. McLaren, eds. Star Trek and Sacred Ground: Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

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      Drawing on a number of methodologies and disciplinary perspectives, the essays in this book look at the representation of religion in Star Trek, as well as Star Trek as religion among its fans.

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    Fandom

    Scholarship on Star Trek fandom has had a significant impact on the larger fields of film, television, and media studies. Star Trek not only has one of the largest and most well-established fan bases in the world, but the fans (variously known as “Trekkies” by outsiders, or as “Trekkers” by the fans themselves) are the subjects of some of the pioneering studies of fandom that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Jenkins 1992. “Aca-fan” scholarship (a blending of the terms “academic” and “fan”), such as Pearson 2004, has somewhat bridged the misunderstanding and tension that has long existed between academics and fans. Fan studies is often ethnographic in approach, with scholars such as John Tulloch, Henry Jenkins, and R. V. Kozinets going into the “field” to examine fan conventions and web forums (see Tulloch and Jenkins 1995 and Kozinets 2001). Finally, works such as Bacon-Smith 1992 have looked at the large female fan base of Star Trek.

    • Bacon-Smith, Camille. Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.

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      An important early study of fandom, the book examines television fandom (fan fiction, convention attendance, fan art, etc.) as practiced by women, a largely unexamined phenomenon at the time. Though Star Trek is not the book’s topic, it is one of the primary texts though which Bacon-Smith examines female fandom.

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    • Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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      The most seminal early text contributing to the field that would become fan studies. Building on de Certeau’s idea of “textual poaching,” Jenkins argues that fans are not passive consumers, as many film and television scholars assumed up to that point in the development of the field, but rather cultural producers, influencing the shape of the texts of which they are fans.

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    • Kozinets R. V. “Utopian Enterprise: Articulating the Meanings of Star Trek’s Culture of Consumption.” Journal of Consumer Research 28.1 (2001): 67–88.

      DOI: 10.1086/321948Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Through ethnographic research of Star Trek fans, Kozinets analyzes the social and cultural meanings of Trek consumption. He argues that Trek’s diverse subculture of consumption works for fans as a “powerful utopian refuge” and distances it from its shallow status as a commercial product.

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    • Pearson, Roberta E. “‘Bright Particular Star’: Patrick Stewart, Jean-Luc Picard, and Cult Television.” In Cult Television. Edited by Sara Gwenllian-Jones and Roberta E. Pearson, 61–80. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

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      More “aca-fan” in nature, Pearson analyzes the ways in which the actor Patrick Stewart’s identification with the character Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation is an example of the extreme entanglement of actor and character that is characteristic of cult television.

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    • Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. London: Routledge, 1995.

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      Tulloch and Jenkins contribute essays that analyze the audiences for the cult shows Doctor Who and Star Trek in terms of fandom, audience studies, ideology, and genre. Informed by thorough ethnographic research, this is an influential volume in the larger field of audience studies.

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    Popular Culture

    The entries in this section sample the wide methodological and disciplinary approach that is characteristic of writing on popular culture in general and Star Trek in particular. In fact, many of the entries in other categories could also fit into the popular culture category, and vice versa. Cranny-Francis 1997, Hardy and Kukla 1999, and Hemmingson 2009 analyze Star Trek using critical theory. Fulton 1994, Kreitzer 1996, and Hinds 1997 examine Star Trek’s long association with Western literature. Wagner and Lundeen 1998 and Geraghty 2007 illuminate the way Star Trek manifests traditional American themes.

    • Cranny-Francis, Anne. “Different Identities, Different Voices: Possibilities and Pleasures in Some of Jean Lorrah’s Star Trek Novels.” Science Fiction Studies 24.2 (1997): 245–255.

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      An analysis of the Star Trek novels by fan writer Jean Lorrah in terms of how they handle interpersonal relationships, class, and gendered identities. Cranny-Francis argues that Lorrah uses Star Trek fiction as a platform to articulate nonpatriarchal and nonbourgeois desires.

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    • Fulton, Valerie. “An Other Frontier: Voyaging West with Mark Twain and Star Trek’s Imperial Subject.” Postmodern Culture 4.3 (1994): 1–24.

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      An analysis of the way in which Star Trek: The Next Generation repositions the figure of Samuel Clemens, a noted critic of capitalism, as an imperialist frontier figure. Fulton argues this representation is consistent with the overall strategy of both Star Trek and television to contain and “commodify” resistant modes of discourse.

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    • Geraghty, Lincoln. Living with Star Trek: American Culture and the Star Trek Universe. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.

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      Argues that Star Trek narratives manifest traditional American themes of utopia, community, and self-improvement, and that Trekkers look to the series because its manifestation of these themes provides emotional comfort and “therapeutic aid” to their daily lives.

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    • Hardy, Sarah, and Rebecca Kukla. “A Paramount Narrative: Exploring Space on the Starship Enterprise.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57.2 (1999): 177–191.

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      Analyzes the way Star Trek: The Next Generation uses the Starship Enterprise—as a physical and an ideological space as well as a protagonist.

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    • Hemmingson, Michael. Star Trek: A Post-Structural Critique of the Original Series. Rockville, MD: Wildside Press, 2009.

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      Draws on the work of Jean Baudrillard and other post-structural cultural theorists to analyze the various cultural meanings of the original series.

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    • Hinds, Elizabeth Jane Wall. “The Wrath of Ahab; or, Herman Melville Meets Gene Roddenberry.” Journal of American Culture 20.1 (1997): 43–46.

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      Argues that while Star Trek creator Roddenberry’s conception of the original series borrows from 19th-century American literature—specifically the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson—the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan nevertheless uses Melville’s Moby Dick to critique the Emersonian view of infinite human progress.

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    • Kreitzer, Larry. “The Cultural Veneer of Star Trek.” Journal of Popular Culture 30.2 (1996): 17–28.

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      Kreitzer analyzes how the original series uses Western philosophy, art, music, and literature, including Greek myth and the Bible, to construct a veneer of cultural sophistication and a level of respectability not usually granted to science fiction television.

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    • Wagner, Jon, and Jan Lundeen. Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

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      The authors share thoughts on how Star Trek has “served as a mythic reference point for American society.” Analyzes the meta-text in terms of a wide variety of cultural subjects, including race, gender, myth, utopian visions, and postmodernism.

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    Critical Race Studies

    Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future was one of multicultural tolerance and equality, of “infinitive diversity in infinite combinations.” Some scholars have argued this vision to be progressive. Others, however, see it as problematic and, in its execution by writers and directors, contradictory. (See Hurd 1997, Bernardi 1998, Byrd 1998, and Pounds 1999 for this latter view.) Nonetheless, as one of the few cultural entities that have been consistently responsive to its critics, fans, and historical moment, Star Trek has produced spin-offs that have addressed some of the previous criticism of the ongoing narrative. Deep Space Nine and Voyager, for example, featured an African American and a female captain, respectively. This, in turn, has prompted various scholars to continue to study the meaning of race in the generation of Star Trek (see Baker 1997, Junker and Duffy 2002, and Chvany 2003) Indeed, critical race studies represents some of the most important scholarship on Star Trek to date.

    • Baker, Neal. “Creole Identity Politics, Race, and Star Trek: Voyager.” In Into Darkness Peering: Race and Color in the Fantastic. Edited by Elizabeth Anne Leonard, 119–130. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997.

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      Explains “Creoleness” as a multifaceted identity construction and then analyzes its specific representation in the character of B’Elanna Torres, played by a Puerto Rican actress (Roxann Dawson), in Star Trek: Voyager.

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    • Bernardi, Daniel L. Star Trek and History: Race-ing Towards a White Future. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

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      Builds upon Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s notion of racial formation to show how Star Trek, from the 1960s to the 1990s, perpetuated liberal whiteness despite its nominal multiculturalism.

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    • Byrd, Marquita. Multicultural Communication and Popular Culture: Racial and Ethnic Images in Star Trek. New York: McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing, 1998.

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      This volume is lighter on critical theory than some of its counterparts but nonetheless offers a fairly comprehensive look at the representation of race and identity throughout the ongoing series. About half the book examines images of African Americans in Star Trek, while images of Native American, Asians, and Latinos are analyzed in discrete chapters.

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    • Chvany, Peter A. “Do We Look Like Ferengi Capitalists To You? Star Trek’s Klingons as Emergent Virtual American Ethnics.” In Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture. Edited by Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, and Jane Shattuc, 105–121. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

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      Argues that the Klingons—and the fans who self-identify as Klingons at conventions and on the Internet—comprise a new American ethnic group, and that its formation “allows insight into the process by which ethnic fictions acquire their particular form of reality.”

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    • Hurd, Denise Alessandria. “The Monster Inside: 19th Century Racial Constructs in the 24th Century Mythos of Star Trek.” Journal of Popular Culture 31.1 (1997): 23–35.

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      Argues that Star Trek, despite the supposed racial progressiveness of its utopian future, continues to perpetuate the 19th-century figure of the “tragic mulatto.”

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    • Junker, Kirk W., and Robert Duffy. “Saying ‘Yours’ and ‘Mine’ in Deep Space Nine.” In Aliens R Us: The Other in Science Fiction Cinema. Edited by Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, 134–148. London: Pluto Press, 2002.

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      Discusses the shifting nature of “Otherness” in postmodern culture through an analysis of Deep Space Nine, the plots of which prominently concern clashes between an African American protagonist (new for Star Trek) and the galaxy’s various alien cultures. Argues that the result of shifting ideas of “Otherness” is a new battle over who will be at the top of racial and cultural hierarchies.

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    • Pounds, Micheal C. Race in Space: The Representation of Ethnicity in Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1999.

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      Drawing on a range of archival materials, from actor biographies to scripts and production materials, Race in Space analyzes the relationship between social attitudes and beliefs about ethnicity in relation to the series from the late 1960s to the early 1990s.

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    Gender Studies

    Similar to studies of race, scholars have analyzed the way Star Trek represents gender. This includes the role women play in Star Trek’s narrative about the future (i.e., what positions they hold), the degree to which they are constructed for heterosexual male objectification, and the allegories that position them as Other. Many scholars have argued that the meta-text perpetuates traditional gender roles and stereotypes (see Whetmore 1981, Cranny-Francis 1985, Deegan 1986, and Bick 1996). However, much scholarship, including Blair 1983 and Roberts 1999, also examines the large female audience for Star Trek (including slash fiction writers, who are predominately female) and attempts to reconcile this with what many consider the patriarchal construction of the Trek universe. Joyrich 1996 discusses Star Trek: The Next Generation in the larger context of feminism and television reception. Finally, Kanar 2000 illuminates the failure of Star Trek to imagine full agency for disabled persons.

    • Bick, Ilsa J. “Boys in Space: Star Trek, Latency, and the Neverending Story.” Cinema Journal 35.2 (1996): 43–60.

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      Bick uses psychoanalysis to understand Star Trek in terms of the developmental structure known as latency. She posits that the Star Trek meta-text remains entrenched in representing the “unconscious tasks of childhood development,” and that this accounts for much of its appeal.

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    • Blair, Karen. “Sex and Star Trek.” Science Fiction Studies 10.2 (1983): 292–297.

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      A Jungian and feminist reading of both the original series and the first feature film. Argues that, despite Star Trek’s objectification of women, the character of Mr. Spock nevertheless offers female viewers an objectified male who becomes a “liberating fantasy image.”

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    • Cranny-Francis, Anne. “Sexuality and Sex-Role Stereotyping in Star Trek.” Science Fiction Studies 12.3 (1985): 274–284.

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      An early feminist analysis of the original series; Cranny-Francis argues that, despite the popularity of the show among women, Star Trek asserts conventional notions of patriarchy and is therefore not a feminist text.

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    • Deegan, Mary Jo. “Sexism in Space: The Freudian Formula in Star Trek.” In Eros in the Mind’s Eye: Sexuality and the Fantastic in Art and Film. Edited by Donald Palumbo, 209–224. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.

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      Argues that one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the original series was its representation of the future as a “Freudian fantasy,” characterized by the dominance of men over women. Deegan analyzes various episodes in terms of Freud’s “Romantic Myth,” “Oedipal Myth,” and “Armageddon Myth.”

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    • Joyrich, Lynne. “Feminist Enterprise? Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Occupation of Femininity.” Cinema Journal 35.2 (1996): 61–84.

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      Analyzes Star Trek: The Next Generation in terms of gender representation, using the series as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion of television, reception, and gender in the 1980s and 1990s.

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    • Kanar, Hanley E. “No Ramps in Space: The Inability to Envision Accessibility in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” In Fantasy Girls: Gender in the New Universe of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. Edited by Elyce Rae Helford, 245–264. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.

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      Argues that despite the attempts by Star Trek spin-offs to render progressive representations of race and gender, the shows still failed to include progressive or even neutral representations of disabled persons. Analyzes several disabled characters throughout the meta-text, including the Deep Space Nine character Melora Pazlar.

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    • Roberts, Robin. Sexual Generations: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Gender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

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      Examines the gender politics of Star Trek: The Next Generation, asserting that the show’s engagement with feminist issues accounts for its popularity among women.

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    • Whetmore, Edward. “A Female Captain’s Enterprise: The Implications of Star Trek’s “Turnabout Intruder.” In Future Females: A Critical Anthology. Edited by Marleen S. Barr, 157–161. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1981.

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      An early feminist analysis of Star Trek that focuses specifically on “Turnabout Intruder,” a provocative episode of the original series in which Captain Kirk becomes trapped inside the body of a woman. Argues that the episode reinforces gender stereotypes.

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    Sexuality Studies

    As with race and gender, scholars have analyzed Star Trek in terms of representation of sexuality. However, though the meta-text frequently, and often overtly, engages race and gender, Heller 1997 and Satter 2006 argue that Trek has consistently avoided representing alternative sexualities, advancing heterosexuality as the only option for sexual identity in the future (this despite the many openly gay fans of the show). Even the later spin-offs from the 1990s and 2000s—Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise—failed to feature homosexual characters and themes, despite their increasing prevalence and acceptance on television. Greven 2009 takes issue with this, arguing that the series engages homosexuality through allegory. Lamb and Veith 1986, Westfahl 1996, and Lee 2003 analyze the voluminous quantity of fan-written slash fiction: stories featuring homosexual relationships between Star Trek characters. Hemmingson 2009 looks at sex and sexual identity in the original series.

    • Greven, David. Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

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      Analyzes the way in which the Star Trek meta-text raises issues of gender and sexuality. Greven takes issue with the common claim that Star Trek avoids a representation of homosexuality, arguing instead that it often engages issues surrounding it through allegory.

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    • Heller, Lee E. “The Persistence of Difference: Postfeminism, Popular Discourse, and Heterosexuality in Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Science Fiction Studies 24.2 (1997): 226–244.

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      Explores the “heterosexual paradigm” represented by Star Trek: The Next Generation in terms of the larger cultural context of desire and difference. Heller argues that while the show explores alternatives to heterosexuality, it ultimately reinscribes its necessity.

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    • Hemmingson, Michael. “Sex and Star Trek: Amorous Androids, Interstellar Promiscuity.” Science Fiction Studies 36.3 (2009): 572–577.

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      Analyzes the sexual content and themes of the original series, arguing that they are much more predominant than in any of the spin-offs. Looks most thoroughly at Captain Kirk’s sexual identity. Available online.

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    • Lamb, Patricia Frazer, and Diana L. Veith. “Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines.” In Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature. Edited by Donald Palumbo, 235–255. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.

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      An early feminist analysis of the slash fiction—called here “zines”— that focuses on the relationship between Kirk and Spock. The authors argue that the primarily women fans who write the stories are less interested in imagining homosexual love than they are in constructing nonhierarchal relationships in which the partners are equals.

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    • Lee, Kylie. “Confronting Enterprise Slash Fan Fiction.” Extrapolation 44.1 (Spring 2003): 69–82.

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      The author reveals the process that led her to develop a piece of slash fiction—fan fiction that focuses on homosexual relationships between nominally heterosexual characters—from an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

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    • Satter, James. “The Hidden Homosexual: Reexamining Star Trek’s Sulu.” Science Fiction Studies 33.2 (July 2006): 379–382.

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      Analyzes the character of Hikaru Sulu—the Enterprise helmsman of the original series, played by George Takei—in the light Takei’s 2005 revelation that he is gay. Argues that, especially considering this knowledge, Sulu becomes “distinctly symbolic of a closeted gay man” within the series.

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    • Westfahl, Gary. “Where No Market Has Gone Before: ‘The Science Fiction Industry’ and the Star Trek Industry.” Extrapolation 37.4 (1996): 291–301.

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      Westfahl makes the case that the “Star Trek industry”—the accumulation of branded content and merchandise—did not emerge out of corporate capitalism but rather was consumer created (at least originally) as a way to satiate fan desire for Star Trek material beyond the show, including homosexual-inflected slash fiction.

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    Religion

    Star Trek and religion have a multifaceted relationship. James 1988; Pilkington 1996; and Kraemer, et al. 2001 illuminate how the meta-text itself has long engaged religion within its narratives, sometimes directly and sometimes allegorically. Jindra 1994 explicates how Star Trek has also increasingly been thought of as a religion—in terms of the way it provides deities to worship, stories to follow, and lessons for living—by its fans. Hark 1979 and Roth 1987 explore the ways in which Star Trek has been used as a springboard for a discussion of religious themes in a popular context.

    • Hark, Ina Rae. “Star Trek and Television’s Moral Universe.” Extrapolation 20.1 (1979): 20–37.

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      Hark posits that Star Trek became a phenomenon because it was a morality play that dealt philosophically with major social questions, and because it acknowledged the difficulty and ambiguity of moral choice. She argues that, although this approach was nothing new for literature, it was new for television in the 1960s.

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    • James, Nancy E. “Two Sides of Paradise: The Eden Myth According to Kirk and Spock.” In Spectrum of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Sixth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Edited by Donald Palumbo, 219–223. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988.

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      James details how several episodes dramatize the debate over whether Eden, or the myth of the Garden of Eden, is an ideal place for mankind, or whether it is a place where humans become stagnant and trapped.

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    • Jindra, Michael. “Star Trek Fandom as a Religious Phenomenon.” Sociology of Religion 55.1 (1994): 27–51.

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      Examines the place of religion in contemporary society and posits that Star Trek fandom exemplifies a new kind of religious practice that positions itself as marked off from the “mundane world of everyday routine.” Jindra asserts that the appeal for followers is Star Trek’s forward-looking rather than backward-looking approach.

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    • Kraemer, Ross S., William Cassidy, and Susan L. Schwartz. Religions of Star Trek. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001.

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      Analyzes the ubiquitous appearance of religious themes in Star Trek, such as creation, death, rebirth, and omnipotent beings. Also aims to resolve the contradiction in the representation of religion in Star Trek: many alien races are profoundly religious, but among humans religion appears to be absent.

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    • Pilkington, Ace G. “Star Trek V: The Search for God.” Literature Film Quarterly 24.2 (1996): 169–176.

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      Argues that the religious themes ever more present in Star Trek—especially the feature films—find their natural apotheosis in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), in which the crew of the Enterprise searches for God.

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    • Roth, Lane. “Death and Rebirth in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Extrapolation 28.2 (1987): 155–166.

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      Analyzes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) as a version of the “penultimate stages of the monomyth in which the hero descends into the underworld and is reborn.” Explicates the parallel narratives in the film that are intertwining metaphors for the life-death-rebirth cycle.

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    Technoculture

    Writers have long analyzed Star Trek—and science fiction in general—in terms of technoculture, or the interaction between (and the politics of) technology and culture. Braine 1994 examines the meta-text in terms of technological utopianism, while Relke 2006 analyzes Trek and technological determinism. Within the larger subject of technoculture, scholars have analyzed Star Trek’s narrative use of the cyborg—a half-organic, half-artificial being—to examine issues of science, philosophy, and identity. Cashmir 1997, Wertham 2002, Short 2003, and Relke 2006 all construct arguments about the cyborg representation in Star Trek: The Next Generation, much of which builds on Haraway 1991. Finally, Penley 1997 examines Star Trek, popular science, and the place of women in both.

    • Braine, F. S. “Technological Utopias: The Future of the Next Generation.” Film & History 24.1–2 (1994): 2–18.

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      Analyzes Star Trek: The Next Generation in terms of its outlook of technological utopianism, the idea that the continued evolution of science and technology will inevitably solve humankind’s problems in the future.

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    • Cashmir, Viviane. “Data and Dick’s Deckard: Cyborg as Problematic Signifier.” Extrapolation 38.4 (1997): 278–291.

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      Argues that Star Trek: The Next Generation frames the figure of the cyborg in terms of an ontological crisis: the uncertainty of what it means to be alive.

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    • Haraway, Donna J. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Books, 1991.

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      A seminal collection of essays by feminist scholar Haraway. Includes the profoundly influential “A Cyborg Manifesto,” which sees the figure of the cyborg as an ironic metaphor to engage politically transgressive and socially liberating possibilities, especially for women.

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    • Penley, Constance. NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America. New York: Verso, 1997.

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      Analyzes the cultural relationship between Star Trek and NASA, examines how each promotes popular science, and criticizes the failure of each to imagine a meaningful place for women in space.

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    • Relke, Diana M. A. Drones, Clones, and Alpha Babes: Retrofitting Star Trek’s Humanism, Post-9/11. Calgary, AB, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2006.

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      Analysis of the Borg, the alien cybernetic race that is ubiquitous within the Star Trek series, starting with The Next Generation. Within that context, the first part looks at Star Trek as a rebuke of conservative values; the second part analyzes the Borg as a criticism of technological determinism.

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    • Short, Sue. “The Measure of a Man?: Asimov’s Bicentennial Man, Star Trek’s Data, and Being Human.” Extrapolation 44.2 (Summer 2003): 209.

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      Makes the argument that the character of the android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is actually an adaptation of the robot character in Isaac Asimov’s The Bicentennial Man, and that Data is used to explore some of the same themes that Asimov does, specifically what it means to be human.

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    • Wertham, Chistine. “Star Trek: First Contact: The Hybrid, the Whore and the Machine.” In Aliens R Us: The Other in Science Fiction Cinema. Edited by Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, 74–93. London: Pluto Press, 2002.

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      Argues that the Borg represent not antithetical beings but rather transhuman beings very much like ourselves. Concludes that the Borg symbolize the “Otherness” inherent in human beings.

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    Nationalism and Geopolitics

    Star Trek functioned from its inception as an allegory for geopolitics, with works such as Worland 1988, Worland 1994, and Lagon 1993 arguing that the Starfleet heroes represent American/NATO cold warriors, while alien races stand in for Soviets and Chinese, among others. Accordingly, space is seen as being divided into territories and “empires” separated by “neutral zones.” Works such as Franklin 2000 viewed the original series as an allegory for Vietnam. The spin-offs continued in this allegorical vein. To some, for example, Deep Space Nine allegorized the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip. Cantor 2000 and Gentejohann 2000 read the series as extending American imperialism into space and the future. Neumann 2001 examines the common contention that Starfleet officers, the metaphoric equivalent to NATO officers, “teach” the alien races—often through gunboat diplomacy—the virtues of liberal humanism and democracy.

    • Franklin, H. Bruce. “Star Trek and Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome.” In Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. By H. Bruce Franklin, 131–150. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.

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      Asserts that Star Trek achieved its greatest popularity not during the 1960s, at the apex of American space flight, but during the 1980s and 1990s, when the militarization of space—in the movies and in real life—replaced the exploration of space and helped the nation forget Vietnam.

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    • Cantor, Paul A. “Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History.” Perspectives on Political Science 29.3 (Summer 2000): 158–166.

      DOI: 10.1080/10457090009600707Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Discusses Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) in terms of Francis Fukuyama’s idea of the “end of history” (the triumph of capitalism over Marxism). Argues that the movie allows for a reflection of the connection between the posthistorical and the postmodern.

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    • Gentejohann, Volker. Narratives of the Final Frontier: A Postcolonial Reading of the Original Star Trek Series. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2000.

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      Applies a postcolonial reading to Star Trek. Specifically, Gentejohann reads episodes of the original series as embodying Western “master narratives” that are asserted as universally valid ideals.

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    • Lagon, Mark P. “‘We Owe it to Them to Interfere’: Star Trek and U.S. Statecraft in the 1960s and the 1990s.” Extrapolation 34.3 (1993): 251–264.

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      Discusses the original series as an allegory for American foreign policy issues and argues that the series was prescient in envisioning future foreign-policy problems in the wake of the end of the Cold War.

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    • Neumann, Iver B. “Grab a Phaser, Ambassador: Diplomacy in Star Trek.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 30.3 (2001): 603–624.

      DOI: 10.1177/03058298010300031501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Investigates the representation of diplomacy in Star Trek in terms of its relationship with American diplomacy in general. Argues that the show highlights the tensions between “realistic” and “idealistic” notions of diplomacy as defined by social scientists.

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    • Worland, Rick. “Captain Kirk: Cold Warrior.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 16.3 (1988): 109–117.

      DOI: 10.1080/01956051.1988.9943393Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An early and influential article analyzing Star Trek as an allegory for the Cold War and America at the height of its postwar power.

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    • Worland, Rick. “From the New Frontier to the Final Frontier: Star Trek from Kennedy to Gorbachev.” Film & History 24.1–2 (1994): 19–35.

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      Worland expands on his earlier article to analyze Star Trek in a wider sociopolitical context. He elaborates on his explication of the show as a Cold War allegory, while discussing the ways in which the Star Trek meta-text touches on many other domestic and international policy issues.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0138

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