This article examines the return of the dead to life in two television drama series of the last decade, Les Revenants (The Returned; 2012–15, Canal) and Glitch (2015–19, ABC Studios). The returning dead do not figure as classic undead figures, as ghosts or zombies, instead returning to life exactly as they were at the point of death and in search of a renewed purpose and an ultimate destiny. This, the article suggests, can constitute a form of latter-day resurrection. The article shows how both series present established religion as incapable of recognizing the return of the dead, while science and the secular state are also never wholly able to explain and manage these apparent miracles. The return of this seemingly religious trope to an ostensibly secular world and the mutual jostling and overlapping of theological, scientific, and aesthetic discourses, as they seek to represent and explain the mystery, not only constitutes a postsecular theme but also occasions the search, at times inherent to artistic form, at times explicit and self-reflexive, for an appropriately postsecular televisual aesthetics.
Returning Again: Resurrection Narratives and Afterlife Aesthetics in Contemporary Television Drama
James Hodkinson is reader and former head of German studies at the University of Warwick, UK. He is a specialist in German thought and literature from the eighteenth century to the present, with a particular focus on gender, Orientalism, and Islam, and has published widely across these fields. He is currently working in the area of sound studies and is especially interested in how sound and music alter the experience of space in social, spiritual, and cultural terms.
James Hodkinson; Returning Again: Resurrection Narratives and Afterlife Aesthetics in Contemporary Television Drama. Poetics Today 1 September 2020; 41 (3): 395–416. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8519642
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