Dissertation Corner with Samantha Bland: Child Protagonists and Technology in Science Fiction

In this week’s instalment of Dissertation Corner we speak to Samantha Bland about her project on child protagonists and technology in science fiction.

Tell us about your dissertation, what is it about?

My dissertation is looking at science fiction texts with child protagonists and how their relationships with technology are affected by their previous lives on Earth, and what this says about representation. 

How did you choose the texts for your dissertation?

I’m writing on Ender’s Game, Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time. I researched science fiction books that had child protagonists, and chose the texts that had interesting points of comparison and discussion. I love all three of the texts I’ve chosen!

Has your project changed much since the proposal stage?

Massively! Originally, I was solely focusing on whether technology or the protagonist’s home lives had the bigger influence in the child’s development, but now I’m incorporating a lot of contemporary sources into it to show how these science fiction worlds reflect our own.

Why are you interested in this topic?

Since the Imaginary Worlds: Research Science Fiction module I did in my second year, I’ve become more and more interested in the genre. I wanted to choose something to write on that would remind me of how much I’ve grown and learned during my time at York St John, and I can show this through choosing a topic I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing about a couple of years ago for a project this big.

What have you enjoyed most about the project?

Prior to actually writing the dissertation, I really enjoyed collecting quotes and gathering research to make my project the best it can be. I’ve never been one to really like rifling through secondary critics to support my argument, but through the research for this project I’m seeing it in a new, more helpful light that brings points of debate and discussion to the table.

What have you enjoyed most about the project?
I’ve particularly enjoyed working with my supervisor, Liesl! Every time I see her she has new and fresh ideas that take my project to an even more exciting place. She’s also really passionate about what she’s talking about, which is infectious and makes me even more excited about my project.