Meta Treks 74: Tell Me a Story / by Trek fm

Narratives and Metanarratives in Star Trek.

Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes 29 seconds
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Throughout Western history, grand narratives, or metanarratives, have been used to define who we are and where we should be going as a people. These metanarratives have included things like the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, Democracy, Marxism, Emancipation, and many other competing metanarratives that have made up the tapestry of Western civilization.

Star Trek, likewise, has its grand metanarratives, which tie together individual stories and narratives into a unified message about the future potential of humankind. These Star Trek metanarratives include things like technological progress, political unification, eliminating economic scarcity, and so on. But having seen the collapse of many of these grand narratives of Western civilization, or at least their dark underbellies, many people in today's postmodern times now take a skeptical view, or even a cynical one, about the plausibility of these idealistic grand metanarratives.

In this episode of Meta Treks, hosts Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling, discuss the use of narratives and metanarratives in Star Trek, addressing the fundamental question of whether Star Trek's grand narratives will end up on the same ash heap of history as other discarded metanarratives of Western civilization, or whether the grand narratives of the Star Trek worldview have the staying power to persist into the 24th century and beyond.


Intro (00:01:20)
Distinguishing Between "Narratives" and "Metanarratives" in Star Trek (00:05:08)
Collapse of the Grand Narratives of the Western World (00:12:08) Star Trek Snake Oil (00:14:57)
The Power of Oratory - Motivating Change with Metanarratives (00:24:47)
TNG "The Neutral Zone" - Timeless Ideals vs. Contemporary Metanarratives (00:32:08)
The Importance of Critical Skepticism (00:45:23)
DS9 "The Storyteller" - Telling a Great Story (00:50:58)
TNG "The Inner Light" - Appeals to the Heart (00:57:28)
Cultural Apathy - Working for the Weekend vs. Working for the Future (01:03:15)
Non-Reductive Perspectivism - Embracing Grand Narratives (01:08:25)
Hero of Your Own Story - The Center Seat vs. Scrubbing Plasma Conduits (01:13:24)
Final Thoughts (01:20:12)
Closing (01:29:53)


Mike Morrison and Zachary Fruhling


Mike Morrison (Editor) Zachary Fruhling (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Patrick Devlin (Associate Producer) Kay Shaw (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)