Conjuring Science

A History of Scientific Entertainment and Stage Magic in Modern France

Conjuring Science

Conjuring Science explores the history of magic shows and scientific entertainment. It follows the frictions and connections of magic and science as they occurred in the world of popular entertainment in France from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth century. It situates conjurers within the broader culture of science and argues that stage magic formed an important popular conduit for science and scientific enthusiasm during this period. From the scientific recreations of the fairs to the grand illusions of the theatre stage and the development of early cinema, conjurers used and were inspired by scientific and technological innovations to create illusions, provoke a sense of wonder, and often even instruct their audience. In their hands, science took on many meanings and served different purposes: it was a set of pleasant facts and recreational demonstrations upon which to draw; it was the knowledge presented in various scientific lectures accompanied by optical projections at magic shows; it was the techniques necessary to create illusions and effects on stage and later on at the cinema; and it was a way to separate conjuring from the deceit of mediums, mystical showmen and quacks in order to gain a better standing within an increasingly scientifically-minded society.

The Twentieth Century

The Twentieth Century

Humorous, illustrated novel by the “father of science fiction illustration”.

Poetry and Radical Politics in fin de siècle France

From Anarchism to Action française

Poetry and Radical Politics in fin de siècle France

Poetry and Radical Politics in fin de siècle France explores the relations between poetry and politics in France in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The period covers the most important developments in modern French poetry: from the post-Commune climate that spawned the 'decadent' movement, through to the (allegedly) ivory-towered aestheticism of Mallarmé and the Symbolists. In terms of French politics, history, and culture, the period was no less dramatic, with the legacy of the Commune, the political and financial instability that followed, the anarchist campaigns, the Dreyfus affair, and the growth of Action française. This study demonstrates the connections between the anti-Symbolist reaction of the école romane of 1891 (in which Charles Maurras first made his name) and the far-right cultural politics of Action française in the early twentieth century. It also redefines many of the debates about late nineteenth-century French poetry by complicating the political engagement of the Symbolists in an era when the French 'intellectuel' as a national icon was being forged. McGuinness insists on profound continuities between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth in terms of cultural politics, literary debate, and poetic theory, and shows how politics is to be found in unexpected ways in the least political-seeming literature of the period. The famous line by Péguy, that everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics, has an appealing sweep and grace. This book has its own more modest and specific version of a similar journey: it begins in Mallarmé and ends in Maurras.

Marie Marvingt, Fiancee of Danger

First Female Bomber Pilot, World-Class Athlete and Inventor of the Air Ambulance

Marie Marvingt, Fiancee of Danger

Marie Marvingt (1875-1963) set the world's first women's aviation records, won the only gold medal for outstanding performance in all sports, invented the airplane ambulance, was the first female bomber pilot in history, fought in World War I disguised as a man, took part in the Resistance of World War II, was the first to survive crossing the English Channel in a balloon, worked all her life as a journalist, spent years in North Africa and invented metal skis. Her life story was so unusually rich in exploits and accomplishments that some dismissed it as a hoax. This biography explores the life of "the most incredible woman since Joan of Arc" and investigates the reasons she has been forgotten. Known as the "fiancee of danger," she was the model for the silent film series The Perils of Pauline.