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Student Wanted for Steampunk Study

15 August 2012

Student Wanted for Steampunk Study

If the idea of alternative Victorian universes, automatons and steam technologies triggers your literary curiosity then a University of Waikato Summer Research Scholarship could be for you.

Dr Kirstine Moffat and Dr Mark Houlahan from the University’s English programme are looking for a student to research a fairly recent literary and cultural phenomenon: steampunk.

“It’s kind of like retro-futuristic meets gothic Victorian,” says Dr Moffat.

Steampunk is a genre that originated in the 1980s and includes science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, horror, and speculative fiction elements, with not all ingredients necessary. In literary terms steampunk stories are usually set in an alternative neo-Victorian era of airships, clockwork and steam power.

The term was coined by science fiction author K.W. Jeter in 1987 yet steampunk is only now emerging as a subject of academic interest.

“In the worlds of steampunk, past and present collide. Fantasy characters and real ones walk the streets of London together. The Sherlock Holmes films are excellent examples. They are period films with boo-ya edge,” says Dr Houlahan.

The successful applicant will be researching and formulating a comprehensive bibliography of primary texts and secondary criticism around the term for a collection of essays Steampunks and Time Trans-shifters: Histories, Genres, Narrative.

The student will be contributing directly to a collection of essays that will be published with the aim of adding to the academic body of knowledge around this little known but increasingly popular genre.

Ten-week summer research scholarships are available for more than 60 topics under the University of Waikato Summer Research Scholarship scheme. The scholarships are worth up to $5,000 and students complete their research over the summer study break. Applications are open to undergraduate and first-year Masters students from anywhere in New Zealand.

The Summer Research Scholarship for 2012/2013 will have two closing dates, 31 August for the Faculty of Science & Engineering, Faculty of Computing & Mathematical Sciences and the Faculty of Education and 30 September for all other Schools/Faculties. Please visit the Scholarships webpage to apply online.

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