2006 January Term Course

Politico-Cultural Economic Analysis of Star Trek

This course introduces students to political economy, post-structuralist methodology, and the application of economic theory to an important body of cultural artifacts. These cultural artifacts are the Star Trek films and television series. The course analyses both the internal political economic content of these series of cultural artifacts and the possible impacts of this content on the larger social formation. It also explores the way the larger social formation and the history of change within the politico-cultural and economic global environment may have shaped the creative process that brought these artifacts into being.

Dr. Satya J. Gabriel
Professor, Economic Department
Mount Holyoke College
(413) 538-2043

ubafu.com or econwizard.net

Week 1: Intro to Decoding Star Trek

Tuesday, 1/3/06: Understanding Star Trek: Decoding

--Focus Episode: Darmok (TNG)

Wednesday, 1/4/06: Identity formation, Overdetermination, and Star Trek as a Product of and a Counter to the Limitations of Contemporary Society

--Focus Episode: Far Beyond the Stars (DS9)

Thursday, 1/5/06: Critiquing Notions of Human Progress

--Focus Episode: Encounter at Farpoint - Part 1 (TNG)

(To Be Provided in Course Packet)

What's Theory Got to Do With It? (Chapter 1 of Economics in Popular Film)

Week 2: Modernism, Post-Modernism, and the Cold War in Star Trek

Tuesday, 1/10/06: Critiquing Notions of Progress: Modernism and Post-Modernism in Star Trek

Focus Episode: Encounter at Farpoint - Part 2 (TNG)

Wednesday, 1/11/06: Cold War Narratives in Star Trek

Focus Movie: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Thursday, 1/12/06: Class and its Overdeterminants

--Focus Episode: The Cloud Minders (TOS)


(To Be Provided in Course Packet)

Illusions of the Cloud Minders (Chapter 7 of When Corporations Rule the World, David Korten 2001)

Capitalism, Socialism, and the 1949 Chinese Revolution: What Was the Cold War All About? (Satya Gabriel 1998)


Week 3: Culture & Environment

Tuesday, 1/17/06 : The Cultural, Political, and Economic Consequences of Otherness

--Focus Episode: Measure of a Man (TNG)

Wednesday, 1/18/06: Religious Fundamentalism, Politics, and Economics

--Focus Episode: In the Hands of the Prophets (DS9)

Thursday, 1/19/06: An Overdeterminist View of the Nexus linking Environmental and Social Processes: Can We Survive the Extinctions We've Caused?

Week 4: Environmentalism & Star Trek

Tuesday, 1/24/06: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

(To Be Provided in Course Packet)

  • The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society (Kenan Malik 1996)
  • Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future (Daniel L. Bernardi 1998)
  • Star Trek: Parallel Narratives (Chris Gregory 2000)



Star Trek: Of Gods and Men - Part 1