Starlog 4: Adventures and the Star Trek Canon

Professor: Adventures

Professor’s difficult choice

Some people stand at the edge of a cliff and fall back.  Some take a running jump.  Some come up with calculations and precautions before jumping.  I want to know what’s down there first.  I can’t always, but that’s where adventure begins..

Star Trek: The Star Trek Canon

The American literary canon has been centered on white European aesthetics, and literature has been evaluated and judged according to critical approaches derived from those same aesthetics.  For instance, works such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave were prefaced by white abolitionists who, along with the authors, proclaimed that the authors had written their own works.  Otherwise, the authorship of the novels was subject to more intense disbelief—these authors did not fit into a literary canon based on white European aesthetics due to racism.  It was not until the 1960s Black Arts Movement that black studies and literature broadened the literary canon.  Along with Cotton Mather and the once controversial Walt Whitman now appeared the likes of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes.  Since then, the literary canon has diversified to include Asian and Asian American literature, LGBT+ literature, Chicano and LatinX literature, Indigenous literature, and so on.  There have been new contributions to discourse, the development of new literary theories, and the creation of new fiction and poetry forms.  At the same time, the literary canon has retained certain foundational elements such as the existence of and contribution to literary discourse, the existence and use of critical theory for understanding texts, and the continued use of various fiction and poetry forms.

The Star Trek canon, like the literary canon and even the Marvel canon, has undergone change since the very first series.  The Star Trek canon has retained certain foundational aspects such as a focus on societal and cultural discourse, diversity, and exploration. While based on those fundamental aspects, the world in each Star Trek series after the first contains variations from Star Trek: The Original Series and from one another.  For instance, Spock smiles in “The Cage”, which is the first pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.  This show of emotion is at odds with what the audience comes to understand about the logical Vulcan nature later in that series and in other series.  Ultimately, each series is a recreation of the world of Star Trek, and thus each series is its own creative venture.  A new or recreated world has at least some different ways of operating from the comparative world.  This understanding, along with the fact that science fiction often calls for the suspension of belief and along with the unifying metanarrative, ensure that the Star Trek canon remains innovative, dynamic, and responsive to the respective times.

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