Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Derek H. Alderman

Committee Members

Thomas L. Bell, Harry F. Dahms, Ronald V. Kalafsky

Abstract

The popular British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) show Doctor Who has been airing since 1963, boasting more longevity than any other televised science fiction program. The main character of Doctor Who is simply known as the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who uses a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension/s in Space) to travel anywhere in space and time, frequently with a human, female companion. Within the show, time is nonlinear and instead of dying, the Doctor regenerates into a new physical form, remaining a Time Lord but appearing phenotypically different from their previous form. For thousands of fans (known as Whovians within the fandom), the show has provided comedic entertainment, emotional support, and intellectual curiosity. Its plotlines are steeped within science fiction/space opera themes of time travel, alien invasion, good vs. bad, justice, love, and robotic innovation. Within these nodes of science fiction exist rich commentary on social themes including, but not limited to, racism, classism, colonialism, animal exploitation, teenage pregnancy, politics and hierarchy, mental illness, and anthropomorphic effects of natural disaster. From a cultural geography standpoint, the show possesses a multitude of points of analysis. This dissertation builds upon a growing scholarship within science fiction geographies, an intellectual branch of geography rooted in cultural and political landscapes, engaging with topics such as alternative histories, technological innovation on the landscape, and invader politics. Thus far, however, little published geographic research has explored the fan geographies of science fiction, which is expressed as the ability of science fiction fans to see the world through a lens of their fandom, dynamically altering their personal geographies. Regardless of the writers’ original intentions, many episodes follow a story arc that may influence viewers’ opinions towards certain social, cultural, and political landscapes, creating a fan geography where Whovians perceive their daily landscapes through a lens of their fandom. Can fan geographies of Doctor Who allow viewers to reimagine their daily geographies through the show’s influence? This dissertation engages with this question to understand how (if at all) Doctor Who fans experience their daily geographies through a lens of the show.

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