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Title: Technologies of Wonder : Optical Devices, Perception and the Book, 1851-1895
Author: Hunt, Verity Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 9412
Awarding Body: The University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is about the conceptual and material interrelationship between the book and resurgent and emerging optical technologies of representation in the nineteenth century. It focuses on the forty-four or so years between the century's greatest optical show, the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the Lumiere brothers' first commercial public screenings of cinematographic film in Paris in 1895. The period was marked by the invention of ever more fantastic devices for showing and viewing (real and imagined), such as the kinetoscope and telectroscope, and the development of existing optical machines, like the magic lantern. It was also shaped by increasingly sophisticated developments in optical science. Yet, in the face of considerable technological productivity and scientific innovation, the paper book retained both a certain prestige and a place as the conceptual touchstone for the understanding of visual perception. This thesis investigates some of the period's different attempts to address, explore and question this book! machine dichotomy. Scholarship on Victorian visual culture has thus far tended to revolve around canonical texts, authors and artists. This thesis builds upon this work, by recovering and considering texts that thematize the book and visuality, which have thus far been overlooked and! or considered only from the point of view of niche critical frameworks, such as children's literature criticism or science fiction studies. It rediscovers some of the fascinating forgotten paper ephemera of the nineteenth century, including children's toy books, movable paper souvenirs and mementos, and moving scientific illustrations, and highlights the importance of understudied authors, such as Albert Robida, Villiers de l'Isle Adam and George Du Maurier. This thesis argues that these marginalized and neglected texts cast important light on an intriguing, emergent Victorian cultural middle ground, in which worlds of optical science and entertainment blend and meld.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available