Mythological cognition in contemporary science fiction and fantasy

O’Brien, Michael David (2024) Mythological cognition in contemporary science fiction and fantasy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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There are two main hypotheses for this thesis. The primary hypothesis is that Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Philip José Farmer and Philip K. Dick, in The Meri (Fantasy), Night of Light (SF), and VALIS (SF), respectively, require their protagonists to think mythologically to overcome the limits of their material universes. The secondary hypothesis is that, just as the aforementioned protagonists think mythologically to overcome the limits of their material universes, so is the reader forced to engage in mythological cognition to think beyond the limits of materialism. I give evidence for these hypotheses by showing that the protagonists think mythologically using mythological archetypes to challenge their perceptions regarding the ontological status of matter in their respective worlds. This leads to their deepening discovery that their material worlds are emanations of higher realms of spirit. Due to the fact mythological archetypes become representatives of spirit in these texts, mythological cognition is shown to be constructivist in character, because the authors’ blending of the concepts of ‘spirit’ with ‘matter’, causes mythological archetypes to challenge their protagonists’ perceptions. I therefore explain how this blending takes place using the theory of conceptual blending. Conceptual blending illustrates that it is the authors’ use of metaphor that blends matter and spirit. Using Jean Piaget’s constructivist philosophy, I highlight how this blending allows the protagonists to either assimilate new knowledge into their existing view of the world, or to accommodate new knowledge by updating their view to a new paradigm. Likewise, I argue that the reader is engaged in mythological cognition by being required to go through similar cognitive processes to the protagonists, to properly understand the texts. The reader is encouraged to think beyond the boundaries of materialism, so that the idealisms informing the creation of the primary texts can be properly understood in their real-world philosophical roles.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Maslen, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84355
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2024 11:38
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 13:51
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84355

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