Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level





Lisa Hinrichsen

Committee Member

Robin Roberts

Second Committee Member

Casey Kayser


debility, disability studies, eugenics, medical humanities, posthuman, science fiction


This project examines the tension between progressive narratives about the future that often frame disability as a medical condition with no place in the future and deliberate debilitation of certain populations for the sake of commodification. These two ideas would seem in conflict with one another, but together, they form a strategy of control. Using the interconnected discourses of medicine and US science fiction, this project synthesizes ideas from debility and disability theory, posthuman studies, medical humanities, and computer science and programming to demonstrate how these two ideas coexist. Each section includes an interchapter that introduces the key idea and contextualizes it within current US medical and disability discourses and a chapter that focuses on how that key idea is explored within science fiction literature. Android testing narratives– Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer–are the basis of the diagnosis section. Medical indentureship narratives–Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang, Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous, and Vita Ayala’s Prisoner X–are the focus of the healthcare section. The genome chapter is an in-depth examination of the intersection between genetic research and eugenics through the lens of Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson.

Available for download on Monday, October 14, 2024