Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nipissing history students find the fun in academia

Some readers may disapprove, but seeing as this grew out of a seminar situation, this tickled me:

Yesterday, Matt and I went to Sudbury (Laurentian University) for a conference called "Social Science on the Final Frontier." Essentially, the conference was about the intersection of the social sciences and the science fiction genre. We presented about the conceptualization of the state of nature in the TV series LOST.

Here's our abstract if you were actually interested in what we were presenting about:

Nasty, Brutish and LOST: the State of Nature in the hit TV series LOST
By: Holly Ann Garnett and Matthew Morris

The state of nature has generally been described as life outside of society, the state, or government. Indeed, many political philosophers have envisaged the human being prior to, or exterior to, these social constructs in order to ascertain the true nature of humanity. Although a primarily hypothetical situation, the closest observations of the state of nature today could be in post-disaster areas, a hijacking situation or perhaps even the archetypal deserted island scenario, like in ABC’s hit science fiction saga of LOST.

Our discussion paper ponders the question: can the situations of ABC’s hit science fiction saga truly be considered the philosophical state of nature? We explore this question through an examination the theoretical underpinnings of this political concept through the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.We find that many of the characteristics of the state of nature that Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau describe exist in the characters and scenarios of LOST, even if these diverse thinkers describes quite varied situations.

Now, if you were wondering why the heck we did this, it's really borne out of our honours seminar class, in which we ended up making references (and sometimes just talking about) the TV series LOST since we, and our professor, are such big fans of the show. So over the past few months (since April at least) Matt and I have been researching and reading about LOST and political philosophy (yes, academics is THAT fun!)
More fun, perhaps, than reading Thomas More's creepy Utopia (at least, that's how I remember Utopia). More useful? Argue your opinion!

Image: The brooding, mysterious master of a far-away island.

1 comment:

  1. I presented at that same conference this morning about how history has been used in SF (from van Vogt and Asimov through Trek and Galactica). It was a fun conference and sparked a lot of thought-provoking discussion.