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  Subjects -> SCIENCES: COMPREHENSIVE WORKS (Total: 374 journals)
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ISSN (Print) 1063-1801 - ISSN (Online) 1080-6520
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press Homepage  [22 journals]
  • H. P. Lovecraft, Photography, and the Transhumanist Imagination

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      Abstract: This article examines the transhumanist imaginary within the work of American weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937); transhumanism refers to the belief that humans can evolve through technological advances.1 By putting Lovecraft in conversation with transhumanist ideas circulating during the 1920–30s, this article challenges how Lovecraft scholarship has viewed his work as either reactionary or “progressive.”2 On one hand, critics who focus on Lovecraft’s conservatism have examined how his antiquarianism and his valorization of tradition have informed his fiction. In these accounts, Lovecraft’s cosmic aliens hail the destabilization of Western tradition following the deluge of alien “multiculturalism.”3 ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging
           of American Science by John Tresch (review)

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      Abstract: In John Tresch’s The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science, Poe’s famous horror tales like “The Fall of the House of Usher” form but one phase of a rich literary career, rather than its apogee. That honor falls to a text typically overlooked by the general reader: Eureka, Poe’s sprawling, strange, and—as Tresch shows—scientifically informed attempt to explain nothing short of everything. In its opening pages, Poe himself promises “to take such a survey of the Universe that the mind may be able really to receive and to perceive an individual impression,” a palpable sense, presumably, of the contrary forces Poe believed were responsible for all existence: attraction ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Cyber-Homunculus: On Race and Labor in Plans for Computation

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      Abstract: Walter Benjamin, Charles Babbage, and Edgar Allan Poe shared an interest in a peculiar eighteenth-century phenomenon: a chess-playing automaton. A machine with the figure of an exoticized other—a brown man with Ottoman robes, a turban, and an unusually long pipe—sitting at a cabinet with a chess set, the automaton would star in numerous matches all over Europe and the United States between 1770 and 1854, reportedly playing against Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Poe, among other luminaries. Babbage, like Franklin and Bonaparte, lost both his games, or so it is said, and was certain that this automaton, called “the Turk,” was some sort of hoax.1 It has even been suggested that this encounter may have ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Scrambled Astronomy in Fatouville’s French Scenes for Arlequin,
           Empereur dans la lune

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      Abstract: On March 5, 1684, theatergoers in Paris snickered in the candelabralit haze of an aging performance space. Onstage, a virtuosic lead actor of the Louis XIV’s Italian Troupe, Domenico Biancolelli (1636– 1688), known as “Dominique,” and famous for his theatrical persona “Arlequin,” strode and leaped about with abandon. He punctuated his acrobatics with ribald quips and comic riffs, mostly in French, with occasional interjections in Italian.1 In this first performance of the troupe’s newest show, Arlequin, Empereur dans la lune, Dominique-Arlequin counted on his expected and reliably funny tricks, such as lying, swindling, and donning awkward disguises, as he sought in vain to entrap his unrequited love, Colombine ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Middle-out from Bottom-up: Engineering and Close Reading Code in
           HBO’s Silicon Valley

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      Abstract: In the season 1 finale of HBO’s Silicon Valley, awkward, geeky CEO Richard Hendricks fumbles for words in front of an enormous crowd at the TechCrunch Disrupt start-up competition. In the months leading up to the event, Richard’s team had developed a revolutionary data compression program, one that could reduce a computer file’s size more efficiently and more quickly than any other existing technology. After a rival company’s demonstration seemingly dashed their grand prize dreams, Richard rewrote his program overnight for the following day’s demonstration. Onstage, lacking any prepared visual aids, he projects his hastily scribbled work notes on a large screen and begins to explain how existing compression ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Precarious Partners: Horses and Their Humans in Nineteenth-Century France
           by Kari Weil (review)

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      Abstract: “Horses,” Weil offers in the preface to this volume, give “one perspective into the massive changes in gender relations, but also class and race relations” in France during the nineteenth century. Weil might have added that, though specific to that time and place, many of her insights apply to a longer sweep of history and a broader geographical range.I offer the briefest of summaries here. The perspective suggested by horses is especially rich because horses have been powerful symbols in literature, pictorial art, and what is now generally understood as popular culture. Horses have also occupied a central place in material culture, especially horse breeding and hippophagy. Weil maps changes along the timeline of ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate
           Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason by Lee McIntyre (review)

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      Abstract: This book is Lee McIntyre’s fourth monograph from MIT Press, and it continues his examination of how we understand truth and post-truth. While he examines science deniers of many stripes—from flat-earthers to anti-vaxxers to climate deniers—he juggles his own deference to the principles of science with an earnest investment in swinging science deniers, one at a time, face-to-face, into the fold of science believers. Readers get a thorough review of the history and key moments in several pockets of science denial, but this review comes in the context, as advertised, of a reformer’s guide to converting the nonbelievers. McIntyre discovers that you do not convert science deniers by throwing volumes of data at them, or ... Read More
      PubDate: 2022-10-16T00:00:00-05:00
       
 
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