This article examines the concept of cognitive environment in relation to ecocriticism. It discusses Gaston Bachelard’s analysis, in his The Poetics of Space, of historian Jules Michelet’s work depicting the building of a bird’s nest. It suggests that the corporeal act of nest-building may then be argued to imply the continuity of an organism and its environment and that the notion of enclosure is built into any ecology or Thoreavian economy.
Jonathan M. Woodham
This chapter focuses on various ways in which the rhetoric and visual iconography of the space age and the world of science fiction was explored in the styling and promotion of consumer products from the 1920s to the 1960s, with particular focus on the United States. Such advertising, whether three-dimensional displays, films, posters, or other printed ephemera, was embraced in the futuristic displays of major corporations at hugely popular exhibitions such as the Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition of 1933–34 and the New York World’s Fair (“Building the World of Tomorrow”) of 1939–1940. Also considered are projections of automobiles and appliances of the future, as seen in the dynamic displays of General Motors’ Motoramas and “Kitchens of Tomorrow” exhibitions, the science fiction–inflected language of advertising copy, and the allure of the future for the general public.
This chapter argues that the prescriptive turn in literary aesthetics over the last two centuries has marginalized science fiction, placing it in the category of the “Sublime” rather than the “Beautiful.” However, this is a position that recent advances in cognitive poetics are in the process of reversing. Stockwell explores the science-fictional beauty of expression, beauty of structure, and beauty of world to propose that the key to the immersive experience of science fiction is that it is a genre of compulsion. Close consideration is given to the work of Ray Bradbury, China Miéville, and Roger Zelazny.
Michelle Ann Abate
This chapter challenges the long-standing exclusion of single-panel comics from being seen as comics because they do not contain what is commonly regarded as a core feature of the genre: images arranged in a sequence. Accordingly, it offers not merely a defense of but what might even be called a manifesto for single-panel comics as comics. Titles belonging to this category have played an important role in the origins, evolution, and popularization of the genre in the United States. They have embodied some of the most successful and acclaimed works in the history of the medium. In many respects, sequential art as we know it would not be the same without comics that consist of only one panel. Accordingly, this chapter moves single-panel comics back into the genre where they belong. Single-panel comics are not simply comics; they are often examples of the medium at its most concentrated, controlled, and efficient.
This chapter provides an analysis of Gene Luen Yang’s two-volume set Boxers and Saints, which offers historical fiction about the Boxer Uprising in the visual medium of comics. Embedded with numerous historical references, these graphic narratives unfold around two fictional characters who represent the complexity of a particularly contested period in Chinese history. Little Bao (a Boxer who is inspired by nationalism) and Four-Girl (a Christian convert who seeks belonging through faith) are on opposite sides of the conflict at the time, thus presenting parallel stories that prompt the reader to contemplate the nuances in the historical past. Both characters come to terms with who they are and what they believe in while being spiritually guided by the first Chinese emperor Ch’in Shih-huang and Joan of Arc, respectively. This chapter discusses how Yang’s work visualizes the intersectional images of the “thousand palms with eyes” of Guan Yin (the Buddhist goddess of compassion) and of Jesus Christ and how they present what Paul A. Cohen has called a “historically reconstructed past” in which the Boxers and the Chinese Christians’ encounters are visualized as “event, experience and myth” at the end of the nineteenth century.
Animal representation in graphic narrative has figured in many of the medium’s important developments and anchored one of its most popular genres, funny-animal comics. Since the modern emergence of the form sometime around the end of the nineteenth century, major figures such a Richard Outcault, Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Edwina Dumm, Carl Barks, Robert Crumb, and Jim Woodring have made extensive use of the animal figure, in both highly and minimally anthropomorphized forms. As argued by John Berger, David Herman, and other scholars, the animal’s lack of human speech renders it vulnerable to a brand of representational colonialism whereby its in-itself existence is emptied in favor of other symbolic, metaphorical, or ideological functions. Many works since the 1980s by Grant Morrison, Steven Murphy and Michael Zulli, and Nicole Georges have striven for less anthropomorphized depictions, in a bid to address the ethics involved in representing the animal subject.
Prudence Black and Stephen Muecke
This article examines the history of antipodean modernisms in Australia and New Zealand. It suggests that antipodean modernisms are determined first and foremost by historical and geographic factors, because, in both countries, indigenous peoples were colonized and dispossessed of their lands and the settler colonists formed the societies which provide the institutions that persist to the present day. The article investigates whether the European strains of the modernist virus led to the development of local strains, indigenous versions of modernism.
The usual practice when discussing science fiction and architecture is to look at the architecture “in” science fiction, particularly in science fiction films. This chapter starts by mapping out a definition of science fiction with respect to Darko Suvin’s “novum” and Adam Roberts’s “technology fiction,” arguing that some of the most significant utopian or speculative architectures, from early-twentieth-century avant-gardes, International Style modernism, postwar pop architecture to more recent cyberarchitectures, should be considered as full blown works of science fiction. The chapter also develops the idea that in architecture and science fiction, it is “representations” of technology that both tend to deal with, and concludes that architecture, by actively engaging with the speculative possibilities of science fiction, could find a critical alternative to the banalities of late-capitalist corporate architecture.
Communist governments in Europe believed that the state should enable the provision of material goods to its people—food, clothing, and shelter among the most critical of these needs. A long-term strategy for how to achieve this goal was left unresolved in the iconic texts and statements of the international communist movement. Architects, planners, and economists had to develop their own solutions to the vexing question of housing for the masses. As part of their work, they had to respond to the new planning regimens of the command economy and institutional structures such as the Five-Year Plan. While the perils of mass production have received much scholarly attention, this essay argues that an alternative base of knowledge about architectural modernism can be mobilized from the history of communist mass housing programs. This model of architecture—referred to here as “serial architecture”—embodied both an aesthetic approach and an ethical stance that remains relevant to enduring questions of the built environment’s agency in creating and sustaining social progress.
This article examines the history of modernist architecture. It argues that of all the arts, it can be argued that the forms and functions of modern architecture and design are the most intimately linked to the physical conditions of modernity and daily life. The article explains that modernism as an architectural and design style may be characterized in its early stages as an attempt to create a form suitable for the new machine age, reflecting the view that society had come to a significant destination point in its development, a point where history could no longer provide precedents for the material culture produced by industrialization. It contends that architecture and design are in essence social practices, even if they are not always functional or rational.
Michael P. Branch
This article proposes the concept of environmental humor. It discusses David Gessner’s essay about why environmental writers do see more humor in the subject of our studies and why they do not employ more humor in our scholarly and creative work. It explains the scientific evidence of the health benefits of humor and laughter and argues that environmental writers, scholars and activists could present a more powerfully emotive case by embracing humor.
This chapter discusses images and discourses of the future in a wide spectrum of SF visual media—from the trail-blazing photorealist interior illustrations and frontispieces of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaire in the nineteenth century to the technocratic iconography of Frank R. Paul’s painterly magazine covers and interior drawings in the 1920s pulps; from the “imagination of disaster” in 1950s SF movie posters to the techno-Surrealist iconoclasm captured in Richard M. Power’s paperback cover art of the 1960s; and from the seductions of hyperreal simulacra in Chris Foss’s illustrations of the 1980s and 1990s to the postcyberpunk digital imaging of global diversity realized by Stephan Martinière in his most recent work. Winter’s overarching contention is that the history of SF art and illustration reveals a recurring tendency to transform and reconfigure icons of imminent futures in ways that have proven both timely and influential.
This chapter explores how the space race emerged in the aftermath of the atomic bomb and gradually entered the cultural mainstream. Science fiction played a crucial role in this process as a forum for expressing the hopes and fears arising from this superpower competition. One of the central issues arising in this extended debate was the race to the Moon and the militarization more generally of near space.
Balkan modernisms boast rich aesthetic production—varied in intentions, diverse in the forms, shapes, and modes of execution, and of unequal degrees of impact on regional and international literature and arts. This article aims to introduce this multicolored production and to offer a perspective on the methodological implications of investigating under-documented modernist sites. One specific property of the modernist locale under discussion, namely, its indeterminate geographical and conceptual mapping, is quintessential for this purpose. The discussion opens this inquiry by delineating the space-construct of the Balkans. It suggests the inclusion of the reflexive and dynamic methodological framework of histoire croisée in the “tool kit” for the discussion of global modernisms. Such a move supports the recalculation of geotemporal boundaries of modernism and evaluation of such paradoxically framed practices as Micić's “modernist barbarianism,” and enables responsible revision of the principles and methods guiding the research activity.
This article combines personal reflections on the segregation of space in apartheid-era South Africa with a discussion of the place, imagined and real, of African-Americans in the national parks of the United Space.
María A. Cabrera Arús
This article focuses on sartorial visions put forth by institutions and representatives of the Cuban regime throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, in particular the visions of modernity produced by and circulated through the institutions of fashion and clothing production of the Cuban state. It presents these visions as oriented to put forth a figured world of power aimed at persuading individuals to participate in the construction of the communist future by catering to the aspirational dreams of the middle class. The article concludes that such an imaginary helped in the short term to consolidate and legitimize the Cuban state socialist regime, allowing the new socialist middle classes to reinvent themselves as consumers, while participating in the construction of socialism. Yet, at the same time, for many people these visions were mostly a mirage, as fashionable clothes were not for sale.
Richard J. Murphy
This article examines the significance of Berlin as a centre of modernity for a great many young artists and writers during the so-called Expressionist decade of 1910–20. It explains that during this period, Berlin exerted a more powerful attraction than scarcely any other city upon aspiring poets, dramatists, painters, photographers, film makers, and artists, of all kinds and from many different countries. The article discusses Dadaism and the Neue Sachlichkeit movement, and suggests that despite Berlin's embodiment of modernity and its fascination with everything new, Expressionism remained very much a subculture.
This article examines the concept of biosemiotic criticism. It contrasts biosemiotics with the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure and provides an overview of biosemiotics as a synthetic biological discipline. It describes how the emergence of biosemiotics widened the sphere of semiotic processes to embrace all living organisms on Earth and offers a perspective of what biosemiotic criticism might be. The article also considers attempts to develop models that would bridge biosemiotics (or semiotic thinking more generally) and cultural or literary criticism.
This chapter discusses the growing interest in and practices of body modification—both common and extreme—since the rise of “modern primitivism” in the 1980s. Viewed variously as a reclamation of identity and a rejection of Western social biases, invariably modification practices foreground the body as a site of resistance, self-determination, freedom, and experimentation, encompassing a wide range of subcultures. Through a reading of cultural, theoretical and science fiction texts including cyberpunk and cyborg narratives, Farnell interrogates problematic issues surrounding the positioning of the body as a site able to be “remade,” and the increasing popularity and commercialization of modification practices that force the once marginalized to reconsider their “authenticity.” The chapter further proposes that a fertile site of reappraisal for contemporary body-modification practice and theory is the contested zone, where the narratives of SF, the subcultures of body modification, and the spectacles of performance art collide.
This essay departs from Frank Ninkovich’s classic narrative of the evolution of American propaganda from a “culturalist” to an “informationalist” mode. Drawing on the example of post-World War Two book programs like the Council on Books in Wartime’s Transatlantic Editions, the USIA’s Overseas Libraries and Books in Translations programs, and the independent Franklin Books, it argues that Ninkovich’s binary schema overdetermines the ways cross-cultural exchanges have been interpreted. In fact the relationships between book programs and their government sponsors were complex and often conflicted; book program participants frequently were motivated by earnest desires for mutual understanding rather than by ideological or strategic aims. Appreciation for such nuances is necessary for accurate understanding of both the possibilities and the limits of cross-cultural exchange and communication.