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"Resistance is futile": The rhetoric of the cyborg in the Information Age

David Francis Whitt, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


From ancient man using sharpened stones as tools, to modern medicine successfully implanting the first artificial heart, human development and technological advancement have always been synonymous. The twenty-first century promises more remarkable scientific and technical achievements, especially in regard to the continuing merger between human and machine, or more specifically, cyborg development. Once thought to be exclusive to the imaginative realm of science fiction, the cyborg is now a fact of everyday existence, impacting everything from human communication to social development. Because of its individual and cultural influence, the cyborg is a technological creation with rich rhetorical and communicative significance. ^ Founded upon the mythic narratives of the machine, Frankenstein, and the western frontier, contemporary cyborg science fiction serves a rhetorical function by critiquing how the fusion of organic and artificial elements will enhance the physical body, alter human communication, and allow the individual consciousness to explore cyberspace. Additionally, cyborg rhetoric explores how technological transformation will impact social change and political thought. Through the description and rhetorical analysis of cyborgs inhabiting both television (Star Trek, Serial Experiments: Lain) and film (The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell), the themes of loss/death of the body, individuality versus collectivity, and social-political implications will be explored to discover how science fiction addresses the problems and potential of the merger between “man” and machine. ^

Subject Area

Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Whitt, David Francis, ""Resistance is futile": The rhetoric of the cyborg in the Information Age" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3074109.