Breathing in Science Fiction (Public lecture, 7th September)

breath_stickyBreathtaking! That’s a label sometimes applied to science fiction spectacles on screen, but breath has an importance in science fiction narratives beyond the clichés of film reviewers. Join Arthur Rose at this free public lecture exploring the representation of breath in literature and film. The talk will start at 17.30 on 7th September in Alington House, Durham. Free refreshments will be available from 17.15.

Some of us only think of our breath when we’ve short of it, whether we are reminded of it while running, or just walking up to Palace Green. Others, those we might call aware breathers, spend much more time thinking of their breath, for reasons that include highly focused activities, like sports, yoga, or music, and movement in everyday life, as for the sufferers of chronic breath conditions. The aim of Arthur Rose’s lecture is to focus on breath in the cultural industry, with a particular focus on Science Fiction.

Breath has a realist function in most artistic media. It serves to remind the reader, the viewer or the spectator of the exigencies of the body. Science Fiction literature and film is no exception. Often tied to particularly scientific discourses, it is often a plot device for human encounters with otherness, either with alien peoples, who may not breathe oxygen, or environments, where there may not be oxygen to breathe. But this technoscientific use-value also has its limits. It forgets the affective, non-scientific qualities of breath as a metonym for life and a metaphor for anticipation. Through an engagement with diverse examples from Sci Fi literature and film, this lecture will consider the tension between technoscientific and affective responses to breath in order to demonstrate the co-determinacy of breath in scientific and artistic discourses.

Drawing on Sci Fi favourites, that range from Fahrenheit 451 to Darth Vader, this multimedia presentation will explore the various ways in which writers and directors show that most ephemeral of creaturely essentials: the breath.

Late Summer Lectures 2016Future lectures in the Late Summer Lectures series will cover themes such as sex and death at the seaside, the quest for the Holy Grail, and folk tales of the Lambton Worm. Join the conversation on twitter via #LateSummerLectures.



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