This book explores the role of vision and the culture of observation in Victorian and modernist ways of seeing. Willis charts the characterization of vision through four organizing principles—small, large, past and future—to survey Victorian conceptions of what vision was. He then explores how this Victorian vision influenced twentieth-century ways of seeing, when anxieties over visual “truth” became entwined with modernist rejections of objectivity.
Provides a fresh account of modern visualities in the overlap between scientific and literary cultures ... the book abounds with incisive readings and innovative conjunctions.
The history and philosophy of science merge seamlessly with literary studies in this intelligently crafted study of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century vision. By comparing literary and scientific narratives of visual technologies, Willis uncovers cultural assumptions about the way knowledge works. He stands out as an interdisciplinary scholar who analyzes literature as a source as well as a recipient of learning.
The interdisciplinary study of science and science fiction would do well to pursue the combination of archival research with engagement in current debates on the history of scientific culture that Willis exemplifies.