Carceral Imaginaries in Science Fiction: Toward a Palimpsestic Understanding of Penality

  • Kaitlyn QuinnEmail author
  • Erika Canossini
  • Vanessa Evans


This chapter offers a new framework for theorizing processes of penal change: palimpsestic penality. Borrowing from the mechanisms of ancient printmaking, this metaphor draws attention to the ways in which logics of punishment may mutate outside the strictures of linear temporality, continually being superimposed, eroded, and re-imagined, as new ideas integrate with those being effaced. The authors mobilize the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror to illustrate this concept in action, arguing that the final episode “Black Museum” performs a palimpsest of the entire series. This chapter traces how vigilante justice is constructed, transfigured, and effaced within and between episodes, positioning penal change as an interpretive process that reaches toward the past and future simultaneously.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of EnglishYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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