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The Science Fiction Legacy of H. G. Wells: how his works of science fiction and predictions of the future have influenced generations of sci fi writers and filmmakers - SACI0004

School of Arts and Creative Industries

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Prof L Dryden , Dr S Artt Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

H. G. Welts is perhaps best known popularly as ’the father of science fiction’ because his scientific fantasy novels of the late nineteenth century did more than any others to inaugurate a new genre that became known in the 1920s as ’science fiction’. One may argue that Mary Shelley and Jules Verne preceded Wells in the field, but the reality is that Wells’s mercurial imagination, coupled with his scientific training under T. H. Huxley captured the popular imagination like no previous author of scientific fantasy. As a result, Wells’s fictions resonate across the twentieth century and into the present day of the twenty-first.
This project is based around the legacy of H. G. Wells: how his works of science fiction and his predictions of the future have influenced the generations of sci fi writers and fimmakers who succeeded him, and how his imagination has been inspirational in terms of popular cultural manifestations of science fiction. Considering Wells’s most famous works of science fiction, The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The First Men in the Moon (1901), the project will chart how Wells’s extraordinary ideas paved the way for much of the science fiction that followed in the twentieth century, notably Aldiss, Azimov, Bradbury and Clarke. For example, there are instances of time travel in literature that preceeded Wells, notably in Morris’s News From Nowhere, and Bellamy’s Looking Backward, but it was The Time Machine that really caught the imagination of the 1890s. Similarly, beings from other planets or dimensions had been iimagined previously, Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race, for example, but The War of the Worlds provided the most terrifying and visceral narrative of extra-terrestrial invasion, and space travel.

In addition to literary influences, Wells’s works were the key to much of the science fiction film industry in the twentieth century and beyond. An obvious example would be Metropolis, but may other later franchises such as the Alien series of movies, or Star Wars, have their basic premises rooted in Wells’s ideas about space travel, and the Back to the Future series owes its notions of time travel to The Time Machine. There are further influences arising from some of Wells non-fiction publications such as Anticipations (1901), and The Discovery of the Future (1902).
Through a careful study of Wells’s science fiction and prophetic works, this project will unearth the traces of his thinking through the literature and culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The successful candidate will work with Professor Linda Dryden, author of Joseph Con rd and H. G. Wells: The Fin de Siecle Literary Scene, and other books and articles that focus on Wells. Dr Sarah Artt will complement Professor Dryden’s interests with her own expertise in science fiction and film.
Applications from part-time and full-time self-funded students who have a particular interest in Wells and/or science fiction are welcomed.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in English Literature with a good fundamental knowledge of the fictions of H. G. Wells, and science fiction more generally.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental aspects of late-nineteenth century literature and culture .
• Competent in textual and cultural analysis
• Knowledge of the science fiction works of H. G. Wells
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
General interest in the inter-relationship between literary texts, film and popular culture

When applying for this position please quote project code SACI0004

Funding Notes

This is a self funded PhD opportunity


Linda Dryden, Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells: The Fin de Siecle Literary Scene (Palgrave 2015}.
Sarah Artt, 'An otherness that cannot be sublimated': Shades of Frankenstein in Black Mirror and Penny Dreadful. Science Fiction Film and Television. Vol 12 Issue 2. June 2018.
Simon James, Maps of Utopia : H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (Oxford University Press 2012).
Michael Sherborne, H. G. Wells: Another Kind of Life (Peter Owen 2011}.
Patrick Parrinder, Shadows of the Future: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy (Syracuse University Press 1996).
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