25 February 2021 - 25 February 2021
5:00PM - 7:00PM
Join Alexander Geppert (NYU) at this public seminar as he identifies how the race for space required the development of a new vocabulary.
At the center of the so-called Space Age lay the promise of a collective future beyond planet Earth. Reaching for the stars and conquering the heavens by means of rocket technology, it was widely assumed, would result in a world-uniting planetary consciousness and herald a new epoch in human history. Based on a reading of Space Age dictionaries written in English, French, German, Italian and Russian and published between 1954 and 1988, this talk argues that the new language of space created as part of the so-called spaceflight revolution can be understood as a form of poetics that tried to reconcile technical requirements with the eschatological hopes deeply ingrained in European space thought and twentieth-century astroculture. At the same time the talk offers a pointed critique of many of the terms, concepts and analytical categories space and Cold War historians conventionally employ, from the ‘conquest of space’ to the ‘final frontier’, juxtaposing them with some of my own, including ‘astroculture’, the ‘post-Apollo paradox’, ‘planetization’ and others.
Associate Professor, New York University
At present, Alexander Geppert is completing a cultural history of outer space in the European imagination, entitled The Future in the Stars.