• Literary Illumination

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (University of Wales Press, 2018-08-20)
      Literary Illumination examines the relationship between literature and artificial illumination, demonstrating that developments of lighting technology during the nineteenth century definitively altered the treatment of light as symbol, metaphor and textual motif. Correspondingly, the book also engages with the changing nature of darkness, and how the influence of artificial light altered both public perceptions of, and behaviour within, darkness, as well as examining literary chiaroscuros. Within each of four main chapters dedicated to the analysis of a single dominant light source in the long nineteenth-century – firelight, candlelight, gaslight, and electric light – the author considers the phenomenological properties of the light sources, and where their presence would be felt most strongly in the nineteenth century, before collating a corpus of texts for each light source and environment.
    • Superintelligence and Mental Anxiety from Mary Shelley to Ted Chiang

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, 2018-08-31)
      Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the earliest depictions of augmented intelligence; within the creature, we witness a very human intelligence that bases its understanding of the world on the convergence of human senses and human thought, yet one that presents these concepts in the uncanny shade of the doppelganger. In this portrayal, there is an anxiety that creeps in to the creature’s understanding of the world and its own subjectivity. It is based on language acquisition and knowledge. Once the creature becomes not only sentient, but intelligent, he begins to feel the existential weight of reality in a way that prefigures characters in subsequent Science Fiction, as well as presciently acknowledging recent pathological and scientific studies into the connection between mental health and intellect.
    • ‘With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?’: Light and Dark in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘The Candle Indoors’ and ‘The Lantern out of Doors’

      Leahy, Richard; University of Chester (Göteborg University, 2018-06-30)
      Gerard Manley Hopkins was a poet inspired by, and very much interested in, processes of light and vision. Within his works he presents a flexible structure of metaphor that is based on the relationship between light and dark. These interchangeable elements come to symbolise Hopkins’s spirituality and religion, as well as the challenges his beliefs were subjected to, while also outlining a very nuanced interest in perception and the principles of sight. Dennis Sobolev identifies what he terms ‘the split world’ of Hopkins as he explores the ‘semiotic phenomenology’ of his writing: ‘To put it briefly “semiotic phenomenology” as it is understood here–proceeds from the grounds that are transcendent to the distinction between the subject and the object, the physical and the imaginary, nature and culture, or any other metaphysical distinctions of the “kind”’ (Sobolev 2011: 4). What Sobolev suggests is the dichotomous liminality of Hopkins’s ideas and poetry. The most prominent example of this may well be Hopkins’s own notion of the ‘inscape’: the term, itself a portmanteau of words connoting the inner being (in, inside, interior) and the outer experience (scape, landscape, escape), attempts to address what Hopkins saw as reconcilable differences between the inner character or ‘essence’ of something and the object itself (Philips 2009: xx). Also, his use of the term ‘instress’ crosses similar binaries, as it is most commonly associated with the impression, or feeling, something may relate to the careful observer.