Browse Exhibits (7 total)

Expressing Political Tension in Literature: Science Fiction in the Context of the Cold War

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The pieces in our exhibit serve as a historical record and reflection of the tensions and events of the Cold War era (for our purposes, defined as the 1950s to the 1990s). These pieces also demonstrate how science fiction evolved and changed throughout the twentieth century due to the Cold War's influence. The structure of the exhibit itself demonstrates how the events of the Cold War impacted and changed science-fiction through each decade of the Cold War. 

We hope you enjoy our exhibit and see how the Cold War influenced the production of science fiction literature.

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Space Exploration and Related Technologies in Science Fiction


This exhibit narrates the topic of space exploration within the Science Fiction genre over time and preceding the moon landing, offering a selection of stories from different time periods. It explores the space exploration technologies used in these fictional worlds and how those technologies reflect the technologies of the times they were written in.

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Women Behind the Scenes: Authors and Creators in Science Fiction


Science fiction is a genre that has been around for centuries. However, only within the last hundred years have women been rightfully recognized for their numerous contributions to the genre. Women have been present behind the scenes as authors, editors, and publishers. They have helped produce works such as paperbacks, pulp magazines, comics, and fanzines. All of these different types of narratives are showcased in our digital exhibit. 

Starting in the early 20th century these women began to emerge. However, they faced various struggles when entering this new and exciting field. Some had to use male pen names to hide their true identities (Howell). As time went on women slowly became more and more accepted within the science fiction community. They also started to express bolder topics in their writing. Authors were not shy about expressing their distaste of the inequality they faced as women. Joanna Russ and Kelly Sue DeConnick make this point clear in their works of feminist science fiction. Meanwhile, the creators of Windhaven 4 make it explicitly aware that their fanzine was created for women and that they have a rightful place in the science fiction community. This exhibit will present the journey of women behind the scenes of science fiction following the timeline of science fiction from the 1920s until now. It will especially highlight the progression of the types of work these women produced as well as the milestones they achieved.

The Dangers of Technological Advancements


Throughout the history of Science Fiction, the exploration of speculative technology has been very prominent. There is usually a discussion of how this technology may negatively affect humanity, and if its benefits outweigh the consequences. Many of these stories deal with the development of robotics, such as androids, artificial intelligence, and bionics/cybernetics. The consequences of the development of new energy sources and weaponry is also addressed fairly often.

Even in the 1950s, in the days of pulps and paperbacks, people were thinking about the potential thrills and dangers of the future. However, the majority of our sources are from the New Wave of Science Fiction, where “soft” and more speculative titles came to prominence. An especially common topic was AI, possibly inspired by the rise of basic computers and processors (Scott).

Technology is predicted to take over, but how realistic are these concerns? While the specific ways shown throughout science fiction are not entirely realistic, they do show how humans can become reliant on technology. Technology is extremely useful in our day to day lives, however, it is also a powerful source that can be misused.

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Artwork: Narrating the Cold War, Civil Rights, and Feminism

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This exhibit follows the use of artwork over various contexts, including; the Cold War, the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern feminism. The artwork in these time periods' corresponding comics has much to offer in terms of analysis. There is a connection between the depiction of characters, use of panel placement, colors, and other such comic artwork ideals and the thoughts or feelings about the current social period. 

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Comics and Kids: Growing Up With Science Fiction


This exhibit explores young adult and children's literature within the genre of science fiction. Through the use of fanzines and comics, we highlight the common themes, illustrations, and narratives found in science fiction, as well as subgenres such as space opera and soft science fiction. The exhibit also emphasizes young adult literature, particularly superhero and space opera narratives with bright and attention-grabbing illustrations. The study of young adult works is relevant in how it contributes to our understanding of marketing approaches towards young adults our age. In identifying common themes throughout our chosen works, we can determine the social norms and values which are encouraged through these texts. In turn, we explore how children’s literature became prevalent in the history of science fiction, as well as its relevance in the genre today. 

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Preventability and the Human Reaction to Apocalypses

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Disaster is inevitable. Or at least, that’s what the niche genre of apocalyptic science fiction drills in to our heads. This narrative is a study of the apocalypses depicted in both modern and older Science Fiction texts, analyzed based on their preventability, cause, and the human reaction to the post-apocalypse. In the light of current technological progress, these themes are of increasing value to a humanity that stands ready and able to trigger many of these scientific horrors.

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