Back to the Future - Science/Fiction in the 1950s

Friday 2 February 2024

An evening of short talks exploring aspects of 1950s science fiction cinema and literature to accompany our exhibition in the Lamb Gallery.

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Friday 2 February 2024, 17:30 - 18:30
Lamb Gallery

Tower Building
Dundee DD1 4HN

Lamb Gallery
Booking required?

To accompany the exhibition Back to the Future in the Lamb Gallery, this special event features three short talks exploring aspects of 1950s science fiction cinema and literature.

Dr Keith Williams (Humanities) will give a talk on H G Wells, Hollywood and the Cold War. He will consider how Hollywood directors ‘updated’ the themes of Wells’s best-known science fictions to reflect the political context of America in the 1950s and negotiate McCarthyism. Are Bryon Haskin’s The War of the Worlds (1953) and George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960) anything more than anti-Communist propaganda or do the original anti-colonial and social critiques of these 1890s novels show through and produce more ambiguous messages?

Rachel Harrison (Humanities) will talk on 1950s Feminist SF: The Housewife Heroines in Space. She will be looking at who was writing feminist SF in the US in the1950s, what the driving force for this mode of writing was in terms of ongoing social and political movements, some key identifiers of this period of feminist SF (specifically the heroines), and how this period of feminist SF paved the way for the more widely recognised surge in feminist fiction in the following decades.

Matthew Jarron (Museums) will speak on The Road to the Stars: Soviet Science Fiction Cinema. The USSR took an early lead in the post-war space race and this talk will look at three key films of the 1950s to see how Soviet cinema reflected this, painting a very different picture to the paranoid American films discussed earlier by Keith.

Please meet in the Lamb Gallery for an informal viewing of the exhibition before we move to room T9 (second floor) for the talks.


Matthew Jarron