Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Richard Grusin

Committee Members

Peter V Sands, Michael Newman, Thomas M Malaby


Affect, Ecology, Finance, Late 20th Century American Literature, Media Studies, Science Fiction


Anticipation has become one of the dominant cultural moods of contemporary American life. Stories, images, and interactive media are replete with anticipatory narratives and motifs of economic and ecological destruction. What is the longer cultural history of this feeling? How and where did it emerge? My dissertation, “Possessed by the Future: Encountering Anticipation in Late 20th Century America,” argues that the roots of contemporary American “anticipatory affect” are found in developments in late 20th century financial practices which arose from Silicon Valley, most notably the introduction of automated, computer-assisted stock trading. The automation of financial models also intensified scientific speculation about the possibility of rapid climate change brought on by the burning of fossil fuels. Through the use of science fiction literary narratives and video games, I explore how questions of both financial and ecological ruin animated the late-century cultural turn towards anticipation. This exploration reveals how science fiction and video games offer a privileged glimpse into the development and mediation of a mass anticipatory feeling, far more so than more culturally prestigious forms of both realist literature and literary non-fiction. My dissertation is split into two sections, Finance/the 80s and Climate/the 90s, each of which starts with a chapter that historicizes the given decade before separating science fiction literature and video games into separate chapters. Analyzing these affective archives gives scholars new insights into how to account for the development of mass feeling in cultural production.

Available for download on Saturday, September 06, 2025