Year of Publication

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Virginia L. Blum

Abstract

Since September 11, 2001 a substantial number of English-language, post-apocalyptic films have been released. This renewed interest in the genre has prompted scholars to examine the circumstances within western society that make post-apocalyptic films appealing to audiences. The popularity of these films derives from a narrative structure that reinforces conservative notions of good and bad and moral absolutism. The post-9/11, post-apocalyptic film typically features a white male hero who, in one way or another, reestablishes the pre-apocalyptic social order through proclamations of mandatory and prohibitive laws that must be adhered to by the survivors. The hero of post-apocalyptic film does not present any alternative to the pre-apocalyptic, white masculinist society, but instead appears motivated, if not ordained by narrative, to enforce the pre-apocalyptic rules and mores in a way that disregards the events and circumstances of the apocalypse itself. This dissertation uses psychoanalytic theory, starting with Sigmund Freud and continuing to theorists such as Slavoj Zizek, to investigate the motivations for survivors in post-apocalyptic films to form communities that return to early patriarchy, where prohibitive laws reinforce patriarchal authority through the mandates of the white male father figure.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2016.008