This is just a short note to a link for the current Steampunk exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford. I’ve never really been sure what to make of Steampunk fiction, illustrations, and culture — the genre has always seemed marginal and lacking in scholarly rigor. Yet, I’m fascinated by Steampunk creations because they forge a link between the Victorian era and the present. Does the Steampunk exhibition at Oxford mark the genre’s triumphant arrival or its inevitable fad-like decline? Perhaps both at the same time, if we think in Hegelian terms? I’m really not sure. Thoughts?

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/steampunk/

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3 thoughts on “Has Steampunk finally arrived?

  1. I find Steampunk material objects really interesting because of the whole DIY aspect. While the objects are generally rather industrial/futuristic/metallic looking, there is something in the art of crafting itself that, for me, aligns these objects with other staples of a craft show like knitting and quilting. A strange juxtaposition surely, but perhaps one that makes sense according to Steampunk logic?

  2. The artifacts we use are all tools, and humans are tool using species, so the our our artifacts are our collective soul. The greatest development of the Steampunk world is the curious lack of factories. All that great tech is the work of a artisan or craftsman. Steampunk elevates the individual and his or her uniquely human abilities.

  3. That’s actually one of the things I find most fascinating about steampunk, namely the work of artisans and the lack of factories, as you put it. Perhaps I find it fascinating because I don’t really have the technical skill or know-how to create some of the beautiful things made in the steampunk community.

    I do wonder, though, about the intellectual rationale of the steampunk movement, though. Could it not be said that all crafts-making elevates the individual and his or her human abilities? If so, then why Victorian-inspired technological gadgets instead of any other craft works? It seems to me that the interest in steampunk stems from more than just an interest in the work of the artisan.

    Another note: humans are certainly tool-using species, but I’m not sure about this idea of artifacts being a kind of collective soul. Would this not suggest that the soul is nothing more than technique, or perhaps even style? If this is actually the argument here, then I agree (it speaks to my cynical anti-humanist way of thinking), but I’m not sure if this is what you are actually suggesting.

    Thanks for replying to our post!

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