Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

End of line: death and immortality in Battlestar Galactica

Starr, M. (2008) End of line: death and immortality in Battlestar Galactica. Paper presented to: It Has Happened Before It Will Happen Again: The Third Golden Age of Television Fiction, Point Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey, 08-10 October 2008. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: Concepts of death and immortality are integral themes within the television series Battlestar Galactica (2005-2009). The human fight for survival, both as individuals. and as a species, is juxtaposed against the apparent immortality of their Cylons enemies, and their ability to reincarnate after physical death. This paper examines the way in which these fundamental concerns of the Human and Cylon condition are addressed within the series, utilising teleological philosophy as a conceptual framework. At the commencement of the series, the Cylon ability to 'download into another host body upon death is exemplified by the Cylons themselves as one aspect of their superiority to their human creators, and in subsequent episodes such as 'Scar' and 'Downloaded', the act of dying (and subsequent reincarnation) although often traumatic, is depicted as a process through which the Cylon individual (and consequently, due to their linked nature, the species) can learn and improve. However in season 4 (`Guess What's Coming to Dinner?') we are presented with a complete ideological shift when the rebel Cylon faction decide to deliberately abandon their immortality. This is of particular significance when juxtaposed with the human character of Laura Roslin, and her apparently hopeless attempt to defy her own terminal illness. Using such examples: the proposed paper will examine and provide readings of the various philosophical issues regarding death and immortality that are raised within the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. This paper will examine how these fundamental concerns of the human condition are engaged on a macro scale within the Battlestar Galactica series, and how such concerns reflect established philosophical arguments. A variety of philosophical themes will be explored, with reference to various thinkers ranging from Epicurus through to Heidegger, through which the paper shall investigate the philosophical processes that prompt the Cylon rejection of immortality, and their realisation of the (alleged) value of mortality. Ultimately the paper shall determine the philosophical validity of the conclusion reached by the Cylons (as illustrated in the introductory quote above): is the fact that we will die the only thing that gives life, be it Human or Cylon any value?
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992 Television broadcasts
Creators: Starr, Mike
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Date: 10 October 2008
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: It Has Happened Before It Will Happen Again: The Third Golden Age of Television Fiction
Event Dates: 08-10 October 2008
Event Location: Point Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished

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