Literary Criticism and the Fantastic

From from vampires to poltergeists, eternal children to cyborgs, this series of short lectures explored how literature depicts the fantastic. Recorded at Palace Green Library on 14th March 2014, the lectures tied in with the science-fiction exhibition, Robot.

Transgressing the Uncanny Valley: Cybersex and Android Incest, by Alistair Brown

Alistair Brown explores the weirdness of android sexuality. In science fiction, androids are often fabricated as near-clones of each other, yet they can also be depicted as engaging in quasi-sexual relationships. Because androids are often identical, such relationships arguably represent the equivalent of two siblings committing incest. As Alistair shows, the strange relationships in science fiction have lessons for our own increasingly unusual relationships online. [MP3 version]

Fantasies of Childhood in Peter Pan, by Roisin McCloskey

Many of us will have grown up with the story of Peter Pan, a children’s fantasy about escape from the adult world. However, Roisin McCloskey shows that Peter Pan is not so much a representation of childhood, as a study of a particular, adult, fantasy about childhood. Through the fantastic space of Neverland, Peter Pan offers a critique of the adult desires which were projected onto childhood in the early twentieth century. [MP3 version]

Vampires and Bodysnatchers, by Lauren Owen

Bodysnatching! The word may conjure up images of gravediggers creeping through cemeteries to disinter corpses, but in fantasy literature it can also signify a hostile takeover of the body, when a character turns out to be someone else beneath the skin. Lauren takes us through a motley crew of vampires, aliens, and body doubles from Dracula to Buffy, where people are not always who or what they appear to be. [MP3 version]

Vampires and Poltergeists, by Richard Sugg

Richard Sugg investigates whether vampires and poltergeists can be considered to be real. Myths about vampires and poltergeists can be found in cultures around the world, whilst accounts of spooky phenomenon still appear to this day. Are these things just a figment of people’s over-active imaginations? Or can modern psychology and physics help to explain the way they continue to make their presence felt? Richard scrutinises a series of tales to find out. [MP3 version]

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