You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.
2. Astronomical Speculation and Imperialism
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the genre of invasion literature, Wells' engagement with contemporary scientific theories about the (potential) habitation of the planet Mars, and his critique of British imperialism and its extermination of 'inferior' races. As the narrator says, 'Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?'
In this course, Dr Steve McLean explores H. G. Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds. We begin by thinking about Wells' literary career, focusing in particular on his work as a scientific journalist as well as his interest in the social and political issues of the day. After that, we think about how the novel engages with contemporary theories about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life and the ethics of imperialism. In the third module, we think about the theme of anthropocentrism in the novel, before turning in the fourth module to Well's presentation of war and warfare and how this relates to issues of narration and narrative reliability. In the fifth module, we explore the theme of evolution in the novel (focusing in particular on the ethics of evolution) before moving on in the sixth and final module to consider Wells' engagement with contemporary debates about science and religion – especially the theory of natural selection.
Steven McLean is the author of The Early Fiction of H. G. Wells, and editor of H. G. Wells: Interdisciplinary Essays. He has written numerous articles and encyclopedic entries on Wells. He has also written on Emile Zola and on literature and aeronautics. Steven has taught at universities in the United Kingdom and in Asia.
Cite this Lecture
McLean, S. (2018, August 15). H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds - Astronomical Speculation and Imperialism [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/h-g-wells-the-war-of-the-worlds/astronomical-speculation-and-imperialism
McLean, Steven. "H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds – Astronomical Speculation and Imperialism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/h-g-wells-the-war-of-the-worlds/astronomical-speculation-and-imperialism