Event Title

The Whirr of the Unconscious, the Spark of the Numinous: A Psychoanalytic Reading of H.G. Wells’s “Lord of the Dynamos”

Presenter Information

Von Nordheim

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Art & Letters

Major

English

Session Number

2

Location

RM 217

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Sunny Hyon

Juror Names

Moderator: Dr. Annie Buckley

Start Date

5-19-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

5-19-2016 4:20 PM

Abstract

Scholars credit H.G. Wells as a key shaper of the scientific imagination in the realm of literature, as the writer who established a system of narrative tropes that facilitated a direct discourse on the destabilizing promises and threats raised for the individual by technological progress—regardless of whether the products of it are wielded by imperialist Martians or the earnest human advocates of the World State—that practitioners of fantastic fiction continue to use to this day as templates for conversations about the hopes and fears surfaced by each new device that scientists proffer. This paper seeks to complicate Wells’ status as a literary innovator and to expand the accepted bounds of his discourse by suggesting that his scientific fantasies do more than uncork change-driven anxieties; these texts also suggest that sites of technology can provide a stage where the unconscious becomes reified and the individual can expel the abject and approach the numinous, where either psychic integration will occur or the death drive will prevail. The psychoanalytic approaches suggested by the work of Julia Kristeva and Carl Gustav Jung provide the theoretical lens for this paper; through it, the paper will look at “Lord of the Dynamos” for evidence of the unconscious and the opposition and interplay of the abject and the numinous. Incidental to this scrutiny, this paper aspires to persuade scholars to grant more attention to the analyzed Wells text, an unjustifiably neglected example of this writer’s strong, early output.

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May 19th, 4:00 PM May 19th, 4:20 PM

The Whirr of the Unconscious, the Spark of the Numinous: A Psychoanalytic Reading of H.G. Wells’s “Lord of the Dynamos”

RM 217

Scholars credit H.G. Wells as a key shaper of the scientific imagination in the realm of literature, as the writer who established a system of narrative tropes that facilitated a direct discourse on the destabilizing promises and threats raised for the individual by technological progress—regardless of whether the products of it are wielded by imperialist Martians or the earnest human advocates of the World State—that practitioners of fantastic fiction continue to use to this day as templates for conversations about the hopes and fears surfaced by each new device that scientists proffer. This paper seeks to complicate Wells’ status as a literary innovator and to expand the accepted bounds of his discourse by suggesting that his scientific fantasies do more than uncork change-driven anxieties; these texts also suggest that sites of technology can provide a stage where the unconscious becomes reified and the individual can expel the abject and approach the numinous, where either psychic integration will occur or the death drive will prevail. The psychoanalytic approaches suggested by the work of Julia Kristeva and Carl Gustav Jung provide the theoretical lens for this paper; through it, the paper will look at “Lord of the Dynamos” for evidence of the unconscious and the opposition and interplay of the abject and the numinous. Incidental to this scrutiny, this paper aspires to persuade scholars to grant more attention to the analyzed Wells text, an unjustifiably neglected example of this writer’s strong, early output.