Beam Me Up, Scotty!

UC Riverside scholars are available to discuss “Star Trek,” its impact on American culture, and philosophical questions raised in the series, films and spin-offs

Sept. 8, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek.”

RIVERSIDE, California — When Gene Roddenberry launched the starship Enterprise into living rooms across the nation on Sept. 8, 1966, it wasn’t long before Capt. James T. Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov developed a loyal following. Although the original “Star Trek” series lasted only three seasons on NBC, the Enterprise gave birth to several films, spinoff TV series, and legions of fans known as Trekkies or Trekkers.

As the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek” approaches, these scholars at the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss the show and subsequent films, Trekkers, and connections between science fiction and philosophy.


Derek Burrill

Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies
Office: (951) 827-1261

Derek Burrill is available to speak about the “Star Trek” films, new and old; the original show; fandom and Trekkers; and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He can also speak to gender and sexuality in the franchise.

“The ‘Star Trek’ universe and its audiences basically invented the modern notion of all-in fandom, or using a series of shows, films or texts to build a life from and around.  This is due to a number of factors: the high level of technical detail present (scientific, but also cultural and social, i.e. the first interracial kiss on TV); the progressive ideology of Starfleet mixed with its militaristic structure; the exoticism of the species, races and life-forms they mix with; and the heroic nature of their mission.  And, of course, the uniforms.”

JJ Jacobson

JJ Jacobson

JJ Jacobson, Jay Kay and Doris Klein Science Fiction Librarian
Special Collections and University Archives, University Library

As the librarian for the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Jacobson is available to discuss the presence and historical importance of “Star Trek” within the collection. She can also provide guidance for finding books, scripts, fanzines, ephemera, memorabilia, videos, comic books, and other material related to the “Star Trek” TV series, movies, and various spin-offs. The history preserved in the collection includes the fan-organized letter-writing campaign to save the original series, fan activities at conventions, and how the “collectibles” industry reacted to and was changed by “Star Trek” fandom.

Jacobson can also provide guidance to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s literary inspirations for the show, and discuss an exhibit simultaneously celebrating the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia and the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek.”

Eric Schwitzgebel

Eric Schwitzgebel

Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy
Office: (951) 827-4288 

Schwitzgebal is available to discuss connections between science fiction and philosophy, and philosophical episodes on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” such as whether androids have the right to self-determination and the ethics of non-interference in alien civilizations. Science fiction raises philosophical issues about personal identity and what are, and should be, our core values, he says.


Anthony Macias

Anthony Macias

Anthony Macias, associate professor of ethnic studies
Office: (951) 827-4394

Macias says, “Gene Roddenberry’s vision for a gender-empowered, multicultural future  was ahead of its time and paved the way for increasingly diverse casting for television series.  Indeed, Martin Luther King Jr. told Nichelle Nichols that her character, Lt. Uhura, was a very important role model for young black viewers, an opinion borne out by the fact that Whoopi Goldberg, who became a cast member for ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ credits the Lt. Uhura role for inspiring her to seek a career in show business. Roddenberry originally wanted a female captain, which the studio executives did not allow; however, the ‘Next Generation’ featured many female captains and admirals in various episodes, and ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ eventually starred a female captain of a starship.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-5893
Twitter: mojgansherkat

Additional Contacts

Bettye Miller
Tel: (951) 827-7847

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