Svante Lovén: ”Victorian science fiction and visual culture”

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas and Department of Literature
  • Contact person: Sven Widmalm, Johan Svedjedal
  • Seminarium

Joint Higher Seminar in History of Science and Ideas and Literature

Svante Lovén, Mid Sweden University: ”Victorian science fiction and visual culture”

Material in English, presentation in Swedish, discussion in English and Swedish

Abstract
The article, which is part of a larger study, situates Victorian science fiction in the cultural context of visual media, with special regard to popular presentations of the findings of natural science to large audiences. I show how the forms of visual consumtion cultivated by the panorama, the diorama and similar devices are amplified and glorified in SF, as the protagonists’ intense observation of spectacular phenomena often make for dramatic and rhetorical climaxes. My main material is the space voyage romances signed Jules Verne, and a number of minor writers in the field. The article concludes with a discussion of H.G. Wells, who both continues and subverts this “spectacular” tradition. The overall purpose is to highlight the instrumental role played by the technologies and the culture of spectatorship in the emergence of SF as a distinct narrative form, and, concurrently, to recognize the genre as vital testimony to the visual preoccupations of the era.