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Sonia Front

Sonia Front

Title: A network of connections rippling through time Human Time and Deep Time in the series Haven

Abstract: A distinct strand differentiated itself in television programming in the twenty-first century: television series that feature female protagonists travelling between parallel worlds. The examples of such shows are Fringe (2008–2013), Haven (2010–2015), The OA (2016–2019), The Man in the High Castle (2015–2019 ) and Stranger Things (2016–2024). The worlds in these series are on the edge of destruction through terrorism, war or another traumatic event. The female protagonists, who share the special ability of travel between the worlds, have a unique role to play – they serve as mediators between the worlds. Their inbetweenness enables their autonomy and resistance to violence, death, and appropriation. Such is the role of Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) in a fantasy/supernatural drama Haven. Audrey’s task is to travel through an interdimensional portal to the town of Haven every 27 years to help as a police officer to protect the inhabitants plagued by “the Troubles,” that is, supernatural or paranormal abilities, which finally threaten with imminent destruction. The uniqueness of Audrey resides not only in her special status as a traveller between the worlds but also in her identity consisting of many segments in which different consciousnesses inhabit the same non-ageing body over 500 years. The essay will analyse the unique temporality of the character, proposing that her figure links human lifetimes to geological aeons, symbolised by Aether, the primary substance of the Void, located between the primary world and the Other World. In so doing, Haven is a show of the Anthropocene, the geologic time period defined by humanity’s influence upon the earth that challenges us to think beyond the usual temporality of a human lifespan, and so does Haven. The imminent destruction as a result of individual egotism leading to the misuse of Aether in the show is the trope for the destruction of our planet. Haven uses the figure of Audrey Parker to represent a network of connections and effects dispersed over centuries as it appears that it is the primary incarnation of her aggregate identity, Mara, who created the Troubles in the first place. The show’s atemporal strategies thus respond directly to the socio-political and environmental concerns of an increasingly volatile globalized environment. Through Audrey Parker, the show addresses the menacing uncertainties of the future from an impossible dimension beyond human limits to illustrate how our cumulative actions impact our planet.   

Bio: Sonia Front is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Literary Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. Her research interests include time and temporality as well as representations of consciousness in twenty-first-century literature, film and television. Her last book is a monograph Shapes of Time in British Twenty-First Century Quantum Fiction. She is currently Vice President of the International Society for the Study of Time.