Sarah Collier (UCL) - 2019-20 Students

Between man and machine: masculinity, technology and spatiality in contemporary U.S. war fiction

The events of 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror saw technological advances which have radically changed modern warfare. Through de-centering the human, technology increasingly replaces man as the primary actor in conflict. My project questions where this leaves contemporary warrior masculinity, which has been for so long predicated on violent intimacy in war. Indeed, like civilian masculinities, military masculinities are regularly redefined by shifting discourse on gender, sexuality, race and trauma – exemplified in the 2010 repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and the 2013 repeal of the Combat Exclusion Policy, permitting female soldiers to serve in front line combat. Nevertheless, warrior masculinity evolves uniquely, being heavily moulded by violence, technologies and state policing of the body. This thesis interrogates the representation of American military masculinities alongside technological advancements in works of literature, graphic novel, film and video game. In examining the relationship between warrior and civilian masculinities, and the ways in which warrior masculinity is shaped by weaponry and telecommunications, it considers the extent to which a new American masculinity emerges from the space negotiated by twenty-first century man’s relation to technology.

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