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Nature vs Culture: A Transmediation from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) into The Nature-on-a-Rampage Film Genre of the 1970s
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Linnaeus University Research Center for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0115-4995
2016 (English)In: Transmediations! Communcation Across Media Borders: Abstracts. Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden, October 13-15, 2016, Linnaeus University , 2016, 74-75 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Joshua David Bellin argues convincingly that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) was highly influenced by both the nuclear threat of the 1950s and popular science fiction from the same decade, most prominently the Big-bug and alien invasion films (146). Carson’s seminal work of popular fiction is “as much a work of science fiction as of science fact,” writes Bellin (145). This leads Bellin to investigate a classic Big-bug film, Them!, in order to trace, backwards, how Silent Spring grows out of common ideological concerns of the 1950s. In this paper, I will take this method a step further and study how Silent Spring (as a representative of popular science), mainly in its critique of the pesticide industry, influences the nature-on-a-rampage film genre of the 1970s. One chapter in Silent Spring is called “Nature Fights Back” and both the 1950s Big-bug and the 1970s nature-on-a-rampage films demonstrate a nature retaliating against culture. The main difference is that in the 1950s films the fighting back is predominantly represented by a single, giant mutated animal (nuclear threat), whereas in the 1970s films animals attack in enormous masses but in realistic size (pesticides). This paper will monitor the transmediation of certain key components and tropes of Silent Spring into two nature-on-a-rampage films: Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977) and Kingdom of Spiders (1977). Silent Spring is clearly contextualized, and contextualizing, ideas of dystopia, apocalypse, evil science, technophobia, human mastery of environment, as well as advocating modern environmentalism. I will look into these aspects of the source text and explore how they are transmitted to the target films. Are the dichotomies between culture and nature really as stable as one might think? Furthermore, I will also speculate on reasons for why spiders in particular are so apt to represent threats to humanity, as in the two films mentioned. Finally, I will take Bellin’s words seriously and look into how popular science also promotes, within its own structures, science fiction. What are the dialogical and transmedial consequences between scientific discourse and aesthetic media? Analyzing the relationship between a scientific discourse and aesthetic media almost half a century ago will illustrate a relationship and feedback process that hopefully illuminates how these relationships function today when it comes recent issues within the anthropocene: global warming and climate change.

Works Cited:

Bellin, Joshua David. “Us or Them!: Silent Spring and The ‘Big Bug’ Films of the 1950s.” Extrapolation 50.1 (2009): 145-167

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linnaeus University , 2016. 74-75 p.
Keyword [en]
transmediation, intermedial, animal horror film, anthropocene
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-57494OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-57494DiVA: diva2:1038875
Conference
Transmediations! Communcation Across Media Borders. Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden, October 13-15, 2016
Projects
Transmediating the Anthropocene
Available from: 2016-10-20 Created: 2016-10-20 Last updated: 2017-01-17Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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