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26 April 2024 - 26 April 2024

12:50PM - 7:00PM

Online via Zoom

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Join the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies International (CN-CSI) on April 26 2024 for a day-long free online workshop of eclectic and interdisciplinary papers from guest speakers themed around Science Fiction in the Nineteenth Century

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Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream (1899) (open access image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

This workshop brings together exciting voices from a range of interdisciplinary fields to explore and expand our understandings of ‘science fiction’ in the nineteenth century across the globe. What we today call ‘Sci-Fi’ is a genre very much of the nineteenth century, canonically understood to have emerged in its earliest forms with texts like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and reaching broad popular appeal by the fin-de-siècle through publications from H. G. Wells onwards. This workshop adopts a provocatively broad definition of the term ‘Sci-Fi’ to explore the existence beyond literary fiction of creative, speculative, and fantastical engagement with new technologies and scientific practices. Our Sci-Fi ‘texts’ will be considered broadly, ranging from imaginative explorations of non-human others in fiction, to engagement with nineteenth-century scientific thought and technologies in Victorian ‘high-art’ painting. We shall see how, across the globe, fantasies and fears about these technologies, and the limits and possibilities of scientific enquiry and expansion, can be traced across areas as diverse as theatre and the visual arts, mainstream science writing, and imaginative speculative fiction.

Registration: Open

Date: April 26, 2024

Time: 12:50pm – 7:00pm (CET). Please note all talks will take place in Central European Timezone.

Programme: Download the full programme and abstracts here: Expanding ‘Science Fiction’ in the Nineteenth Century

Please note: all talks will take place in Central European Timezone (CET).

12:50am – 1:00pm (CET) – Welcome Address

Speaker: Dr Emma Merkling, Durham University and I Tatti, Harvard University

1:00 – 1:45pm (CET) – Session 1

Title: The Origins of Japanese Science Fiction in the 19th Century

Chair: Dr Madeline Potter, University of Edinburgh

Speaker: Professor Michal Daliot-Bul, University of Haifa


2:00 – 2:45pm (CET): Session 2

Title: Edward Burne-Jones’s The Beguiling of Merlin (1873–4): Worldbuilding, Remaking and Unmaking

Chair: Dr Emma Merkling, Durham University and I Tatti, Harvard University

Speaker: Professor Emeritus Caroline Arscott, The Courtauld Institute of Art


2:45 – 4:00pm (CET): BREAK


4:00 – 4:45pm (CET): Session 3

Title: Black Men and Sharks: Racial Futurity In and Around the 1890s

Chair: Dr Efram Sera Shriar, University of Copenhagen and Durham University

Speaker: Dr kitt price, Queen Mary University of London


5:00 – 5:45pm (CET): Session 4

Title: The 1001 Nights and the Underpinnings of Arabic Science Fiction

Chair: Dr Tobias Wilson-Bates, Georgia Gwinnett College

Speaker: Professor Ian Campbell, Georgia State University


6:00 – 6:45pm (CET): Session 5

Title: Cosmic Invasion, Romance, and Science Fiction in Hodgson and Wells

Chair: Dr Emily Vincent, Durham University and University of Birmingham

Speaker: Professor Neil Hultgren, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB),


6:45 – 7:00pm (CET): Closing Remarks

Speaker: Dr Emily Vincent, Durham University and University of Birmingham