CRITICAL APPROACHES TO SCIENCE FICTION -
CHAIR: Joe Sanders, Lakeland Community College, Ohio.
DON W. SEIKER, New Hampshire College, "H. G. Wells
Goes to the Movies: The Making and Meaning of
Things to Come."
the Korda-Menzies film production of
Come provided millions of viewers with H.
' ideas about history, government, warfare
very future of mankind. The modern
is likely to have some serious
s about most of Wells' solutions to the
the film so facilely resolves. Wells was
for pandering to the gods of progress
creating the most lopsided Utopia ever
Yet in many ways the film does not
y reflect or agree with his beliefs set
the book, The Shape of Things to Come.
ROBERT M. PHILMUS, Concordia University - Montreal,
"Mechanical Operations of the Spirit and A Tale of
Arguing that Swift's Tale of a
Gulliver's Travels, is science fiction
sense of being a fiction based upon
uphill work. Yet improbable as it may seem, the
theory of madness that is in all respects central
to the Tale does bear enough of a parodistic
resemblance to mechanical accounts of the spirit
propounded by Joseph Glanvill, Thomas Willis, and
lesser known hypothesizers on the subject to
suggest that this most fantastical aspect of the
Tale does have scientific basis. Swift's possible
"sources" here underscore what he is doing in the
Tale as a whole: turning the modern penchant for
mechanistic theorizing against modernity itself.
GREGORY RENAULT, Tacoma, Washington, "The Dynamic
Mirror: Darko Suvin's Estranged Literary Theory."
Darko Suvin's definition of SF as "cognitive
estrangement" is one of the most significant
attempts to explore the relation between art and
politics in SF literature. This paper critically
examines Suvin's project, systematically
illuminating the hidden assumptions, implicit
concepts and contradictory effects of his literary
theory. Analysis of fundamental terms such as
estrangement and cognition, as well as Suvin's
basic delimitation of the genre in his genre
criticism and history, points to the flaws
inherent in his attempt to construct a formalist
basis for political criticism of SF.
No Victorian social thinker more linked his
political views to the reconstruction of past
societies through myth and history than William
Morris. At the height of his period of active
socialist activity Morris began in his imaginative
writings to recreate history along similiar lines.
This paper refers to Morris' writings on medieval
culture and the history of socialism in order to
compare The Roots of the Mountains with News From
Nowhere. In the process, it examines how The
Roots of the Mountain's fantasy of an early
medieval society represents the constraints and
the strengths of his Utopian strain of
GARY AHO, University of Massachusetts, "William
Morris, Iceland, and the Late Prose Romances."
In the Icelandic Journals, William Morris
registers his response to Thing-Vellir with the
following words: "once again that thin thread of
insight and imagination, which comes so seldom to
us, and is such a joy when it comes, did not fail
me at the sight of the greatest marvel and most
storied place of Iceland." This paper shall
discuss what insights might have provided Morris,
mentioning how several other critics have
interpreted Iceland's significance to Morris. It
shall then point out the ways that Iceland's
geography and story seem to merge, becoming
threads in the tapestries of his late prose
FREDERICK KIRCHHOFF, Indiana University-Purdue
University, "William Morris' Anti-Books."
William Morris' late prose romances were written
in response to what he called "the plague of books"
characteristics of nineteenth-century industrial
society. Their archaic diction and typographical
format (in the Kelmscott editions for which they
were specifically written) block easy reading.
This distrust of the printed word has its internal
counterpart in the treatment of written texts
within the narratives, where books are either
dangerous or at least misleading. Together, these
facts suggest an opposition between the story and
the written form in which it appears. The romances
force the reader to dissociate the story from its
text and thus create an illusion of the timeless
independence of the story.
MONSTERS IN ARTHURIAN LORE
CHAIR: Thomas E. Vesce, Mercy College - New York.
JOEL FEIMER, Mercy College,
Michel: The Significance
"The Giant of Mont St.
of the Monstrous in
CHAIR: Richard Mathews, University of Tampa.
FLORENCE BOOS, University of Iowa, "The Roots of the
Mountains as a Pre-Socialist History."
In the early twelfth century versions of Arthur's
story may be found the episode of Arthur's
encounter with the Giant of Mont St. Michel.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, and Layamon all
present Arthur's confrontation with the monstrous
giant in terms which make the struggle emblematic
of Arthur's career as a whole and the significance
which the British king has by virtue of his
exploits. The Giant represents the demonic;
Arthur is the avenging agent of divine providence