Liminal Bodies: the Grand Narratives of Myth, Magic, Religion, and Science in the Evolution of Speculative Literature

May 2023
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Which hybrid forms have historically divided societies and why is this stratification dangerous? What defines which liminal bodies are met with hostility and social rejection and which are met with adulation and reverence? How can the defamiliarization present in the liminal forms integral to the thematic functioning of science fiction and fantasy texts be used as a vehicle for literalizing the expression of these social problems? Reconciling the false binaries of religion/science, magic/religion, and hybrid/purebred exposes the artificiality of hierarchical categorizations involving dominant and supplementary terms in sociopolitical consciousness. By analyzing the operation of liminal bodies at the individual and social levels in works of speculative fiction, the interconnections between myth, magic, religion, and science can be examined without attaching a temporal precedent that legitimizes the institution of contemporary science over magic for the fact that it is contingent upon objective, external methods of validation. Science fiction explores the concepts of myth, magic, religion, and science in tandem through its multifaceted rendition of how hybrid bodies are simultaneously loathed as "Other" and revered as liminal in a way that makes them both dangerous but necessary for individual and social evolution. By dissecting the destructive and generative powers of liminality, science fiction literature reveals that the desire to use magic and/or science to establish order and contain bodies that exist in more than one literal or figurative categorical designation inevitably leads to chaos.

Literature, General