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1. Mars Fever
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the War of the Worlds as a speculative response to the ‘Mars fever’ that was gripping the popular imagination by the 1890s, focusing in particular on how Wells’ predecessors imagined the relationship between humans and Martians and how these differ from Wells’ presentation in The War of the Worlds.
In this course, Dr Keith Williams (University) explores H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. We begin by thinking about the concept of ‘Mars fever’, focusing in particular on the reasons behind the resurgent interest in the planet in the late 19th century and how this interest was captured in the novels of Wells’ predecessors and contemporaries. After that, we think about the War of the Worlds as a kind of reverse colonialism, where the Europeans find themselves under attack from a technologically-advanced ‘superior’ race. In the third module, we think about how the War of the Worlds drew on (British) anxieties about a real-life external enemy – the Germans – before moving on in the fourth module to think about the similarities between the humans and Martians, not least the fact that the Martians appear to have evolved “from beings not unlike ourselves”. Finally, in the fifth module, we consider the Epilogue to the War of the Worlds, the impact of the Martian invasion and the concept of the ‘commonweal of mankind’.
Dr Keith Williams is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Dundee. His research interests include the literature and culture of the pre-1945 period (with a special emphasis on H.G. Wells and James Joyce) as well as in writing and cinematicity, documentary and reportage. His recent publications include H.G. Wells, Modernity and the Movies (Liverpool, 2007) and (ed. with Steven Matthews) Rewriting the Thirties: Modernism & After (London, 1997).
Cite this Lecture
Williams, K. (2018, August 15). H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds - Mars Fever [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/h-g-wells-the-war-of-the-worlds-ad33e38e-4783-4744-9990-981562a09869/mars-fever
Williams, Keith. "H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds – Mars Fever." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://massolit.io/courses/h-g-wells-the-war-of-the-worlds-ad33e38e-4783-4744-9990-981562a09869/mars-fever