Date(s) - Tue. Feb. 3, 2015 - Tue. Feb. 10, 2015
12:00 am GMT

Microcinema [ ÊTRE]

Pradeep Pillai, Shalon Noble, Ursula Misztal


The anxiety unleashed by the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century helped propel a new Romantic sensibility regarding the natural sciences. The mixture of both fear and fascination that accompanied the discoveries of new, almost magic-like forces – particularly those in electromagnetism and electrochemistry, as made famous by Luigi’s Galvani’s demonstration of “animal electricity” – have become a persistent theme in the genre of both horror and science fiction from Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818) onward. This course will trace how our current notions of science, which first arose during this period, have served continuously as a cipher for both the anxieties and perceived horrors of modernity in literature and film.

The Romantic period was also the beginning of what has been called the “Second Scientific Revolution”, a revolution which began with the investigation of the so-called “imponderable fluids” — that is, electricity, heat, and magnetism. This lecture will discuss how the study of what was regarded as semi-occult forces and ‘fluids’ provided critical impetus to the Romantic imagination’s attempt to explain how matter could be animated to give rise to machines, both biological and mechanical, living and dead. The lecture will demonstrate how a new scientific metaphysics served as a source for the “fantastic” and “uncanny” in Gothic fiction and film, from Frankenstein through to the Gothic-Noir film Blade Runner, thus illustrating how the Gothic can be viewed as the shadow of scientific realism.