Living with Star Trek
: utopia, community, self-improvement and the Star Trek universe

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Living with Star Trek investigates the connections between Star Trek fandom
and the fictional Star Trek text. This study identifies and examines the
American themes of utopia, community and self-improvement inherent within
the fictional text which also form the thematic framework for letters written by
fans to express their affection for the series. These letters represent a `network
of support', whereby a community of fans is able to communicate with each
other through written correspondence sent to producers, edited collections, and
fan magazines. In talking about the series, fans confess and share intimate
stories, often based around trauma or bereavement, and at the same time
describe how Star Trek has played an important and inspirational part in their
daily lives; Star Trek's utopian vision and communal spirit has given them the
impetus to enact positive change.
Drawing together the themes identified in the text and fan letters, the first half
of the thesis examines Star Trek's use of history, narrative and myth to tell its
futuristic stories. In particular, I examine how Star Trek has used the distinctive
literary tradition of the Puritan American Jeremiad to create a didactic narrative
that emphasises the attainment of utopia through communal effort and personal
change. The second half of the thesis continues this inquiry by examining a
range of letters that describe how fans are able to tap into the open nature of the Star Trek text and use it to fulfil needs and desires in their own daily lives. In
particular, I stress how the letters are not just examples of fan affection but also
represent a reciprocal relationship where fans can criticise and engage with the
programme as well as use it as a form of motivation.
Date of AwardMar 2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorMark Jancovich (Supervisor) & Eithne Quinn (Supervisor)


  • Star Trek
  • Fandom
  • History
  • Letters
  • Individualism
  • Utopia
  • Community

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