Exhibition: Life on the Moon opens with Lecture by Simon J. James

Professor James came all the way from the UK to deliver the opening lecture to Life on the Moon (and to see some H.G. Wells materials from our collections, of course). It was a great lecture and we had a great turnout. Thanks to everyone for coming out and checking out the lecture and the exhibition. For those of you who missed it, here’s a video!

The Idea of a Planned World”:

H. G. Wells’s “The First Men in the Moon”
A Lecture by Simon J. James

30 August 2013, 3-5 p.m
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 346 Library

H. G. Wells is now best known for Victorian science fiction such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. In his own time, however, Wells was more famous for his utopian and political writing. His later Edwardian scientific romances combine the fantastic with social thought. The First Men in the Moon gives extended consideration to the imagined life in the moon of the “Selenite Society,” both a utopian image of Wells’s own dreams for the Earth, and a dystopian nightmare of an entirely planned world. Professor Simon J. James, of Durham University, UK, the author of scholarly work on Wells, will give an account of The First Men in the Moon in the context of Wells’s wider work, and of some of the unpublished material in the book’s manuscript, which is held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s H. G. Wells Collection. The event is co-sponsored by The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH).

Professor Simon J. James is Professor of Victorian Literature in the Department of English Studies, Durham University. He taught at Cambridge and at Salford Universities before moving to Durham University in 1999. He is a specialist in Victorian and early twentieth-century fiction in particular, and in forms of narrative more generally. He is the author of Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative Form in the Novels of George Gissing (Anthem, 2003) and Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2012) and the co-editor of The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures (Rodopi, 2011) and George Gissing and the Woman Question: Convention and Dissent (Ashgate, 2013). He is the editor of The Wellsian, the scholarly journal of the H. G. Wells Society, and of four Wells novels in the Penguin Classics series. He is currently working on an online edition of the manuscript of The Time Machine, and books on Dickens and on male bonding in Victorian and Edwardian fiction.

The exhibition, Life on the Moon: Literary and Scientific Reflections (30 August—13 December 2013) explores the history of scientific and literary speculation about life on the moon. Books and manuscript material from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois trace the history of writing about the Moon, from the Lucian’s “True Historie,” through the first telescopic observations of the Moon, its investment as a proxy for thinking anew about human society and multiple worlds, and on into the opportunity for stories of science-based adventure. Also on display will be three artifacts from the Apollo 16 mission; including a moon rock sample on loan from NASA, and two artifacts used on the moon’s surface on loan from Kennesaw State University. The exhibition is curated by Marten Stromberg, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and Patrick Fadely, a Ph.D candidate in the UIUC English Department.

Along with the exhibition, an event series called “See You on the Moon,” will feature a whole host of events including: a night reading at the Station Theatre in Urbana, storytelling at the Parkland Planetarium, an on-campus moon observation session by the Astronomy Department, “WOLF” (a performance art piece that is part of the “Unreliable Bestiary” series), a Moon-themed performance by the U of I Concert Jazz Band, a harvest moon festival sponsored by Orchard Downs and the Japan House, children’s events at the Urbana and Champaign public libraries, and an Art Exhibition at the Independent Media Center to take place during the Pygmalion Music Festival. Details on these and other events are found at the website: go.illinois.edu/moon.

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