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Technology & Imagination

September 18, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Perhaps more so than other cultural objects, machines, gadgets and the like have a tendency to become the focal point for literary narratives and social imaginaries. What makes technology so central to human storytelling? How, why, and with what effects do machines, technical systems, and technical objects become embedded in cultural narratives, both formal and informal? This workshop brings together scholars from literary studies and the history of technology to interrogate the intersection of technology, narrative, and other imaginative structures. Presentations range from the 18th to the 20th centuries; focus on technologies of all sorts, from the guillotine to electric lights; and examine a range of imaginative thinking, including speculative narration, poetry, and scientific humour.


Nicoletta Asciuto, University of York (UK)
Jeni Barton, University of Toronto
Tina Y Choi, York University (Canada)
Edward Jones-Imhotep, York University (Canada)
Rebecca Woods, University of Toronto


12:10-12:15 Welcoming remarks
12:15-1:00 Edward Jones-Imhotep, Before the Infernal Machine: Imagining the Guillotine in the Early French Republic
1:00-1:45 Tina Y Choi, Charles Babbage, Contingent Futures, and a Narrative in Numbers
1:45-2:30 Rebecca Woods, “A Living Death” and the Frozen Meat Trade: The Anatomy of a Hoax
2:30-2:45 break
2:45-3:30 Nicoletta Asciuto, From Gas Stars to Light Bulbs: Imagining the New Electric Light in Late Victorian and Modernist Poetry
3:30-4:15 Jeni Barton, Surely You’re Joking: Humour as Serious Scientific Self-Reflection


September 18, 2017
12:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Copper Room (GSC-216)


Rebecca Woods