Steampunk and feminism : reimagining the past to illuminate the present
Soh, Theodora Hui Jun
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Steampunk stories reimagine the nineteenth-century by infusing it with retrofuturistic technology, science fiction and fantasy. They frequently subvert the social and cultural norms of their historical setting, particularly with regards to nineteenth-century gender relations. The steampunk genre is populated by female characters that rebel against the constraints of traditional Victorian society and do things that would be considered "improper" for a lady of the time to be doing such as taking an interest in science and inventing, going on adventures, fighting, etc. The genre‘s nineteenth-century setting also allows it to marry a feminist perspective and conventionally feminine dress in order to show that women can be both "feminine" and empowered. Through the act of reimagining the past, steampunk provides a platform where women can reclaim their place in history. Since actual historical accounts of the nineteenth-century have tended to ignore women and their contributions, steampunk stories depict fictional versions of the nineteenth-century designed to acknowledge or even emphasise the role that women played in society and history. Finally, by telling stories about women who are able to triumph over the discrimination of the past, steampunk also plays an important role in inspiring female readers to continue to fight for their rights in the present.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University