Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Contemplating "What if?": Allohistoric Reconstructions of Victorian Restrictions in Young Adult Steampunk
by Young, Brett Carol, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2014, 189; 3711411
Abstract (Summary)

Simply stated, steampunk literature is a hybrid genre of allohistory in steam-based science fiction that analyzes the restrictions and marginalizations found in the social issues of the Victorian period. This dissertation argues the allohistoric reconstructions in young adult steampunk didactically suggest that the power to change the future is in the hands of the individual who is able to personally alter the restrictions placed upon him or her by the social ideals of the Victorian period. In other words, protagonists of young adult steampunk consciously act against the restrictions of their past in order to create a different future for themselves, and hopefully others. The dissertation is divided into two distinct sections: the first examines how history and allohistory are presented within all types of children's and young adult literature; the second presents the ways in which steampunk elements found in allohistory interact with the presentation of factual historical social concepts while interacting with the past, present, and future. Furthermore, this dissertation argues that steampunk illustrates the effects each part of history (the past, present, and future) has on itself, so that one cannot be separated from the other, as demonstrated in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy (2009–2011), Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (1995–2001), and Philip Reeve's Predator Cities quartet (2001–2006). Finally, this dissertation argues that steampunk maintains that history is not doomed to repeat itself if the present takes note of the restrictions of the past and applies them towards changing the future. In doing so, this dissertation helps to relieve an obvious gap in literary steampunk criticism while defining the ways steampunk fits within the children's and young adult literary landscape.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: DeVine, Christine
Commitee: Geer, Jennifer, Wu, Yung-Hsing
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature
Keywords: Allohistory, Science fiction, Social restrictions, Steampunk, Victorian, Young adult
Publication Number: 3711411
ISBN: 978-1-321-87621-5
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