Master’s Thesis

Thesis submitted to the Bogazici University Institute for Graduate Studies in the Social Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology by Zeynep Gokay USTUN approved by Assoc.Prof. Biray Kolluoglu (Thesis Advisor), Assist.Prof.Dr. Ceren Ozselcuk, Prof.Dr. Asuman Suner.

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Desire of the Impossible; A Cultural Reading of Fantastic Cinema

In this study the fantastic cinema will be investigated in order to define a new kind of vulnerability of the subjects in late twentieth century. With the nineteenth century, the modern societies faced a process of disenchantment and secularization that resulted in a new mode of cultural production in the wake of late or consumerist capitalism which simply refers to that of postmodern mode of production. Accordingly, with the depletion of the mystical and supernatural forces within the cultural sphere, a new form of fantastic art that re-emerged as its true form as the game of the impossible has arisen. There was a growing interest in fantastic narratives; subjects of the late 20th century enjoyed the fantastic cinematic experience more than ever before.

The main aim of my work, therefore, is to grasp this obvious boom in the field of the fantastic in depth and read it in regard to the mode and the effect of the fantastic. Fantasy sine qua non refers to the reversal of the ground rules of our physical world, twisting and bending what is possible in our reality or simply the game of the impossible. Given this definition, particular products of the field may include marvelous, uncanny or mimetic elements separately or at once, even though these elements roughly correspond to the pre-modern, modern and the postmodern essence.

The fantastic cinema, in which these elements of particular periods of history may coexist, is a source for social and political representations that positions the subject in parallel to what we conceive as impossibility and allows one to investigate the shifts inherent. While contemporary mythological fantasy displays how our heroes derived from mythologies and attractively placed in fantastic narratives of today, the heroic and imaginative fantastic narratives, as the most popular mainstream products, offer mostly the mimetic elements and reflect the strong discourse of the neoliberal ideology keeping it up and running. Either offering a wake-up call for disturbed agents or a reinforcement of dominant ideologies for docile subjects of the Fantasy, fantastic fiction may serve us the impossibility merely achieved in the imaginary order or to show us that ‘another world is possible’ with the representations that serve the ideologies on a silver platter reinforcing the impossibility.

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