© 2012

Imagining Outer Space

European Astroculture in the Twentieth Century

  • Alexander C. T. Geppert

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. Narrating Outer Space

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 25-25
    2. Claudia Schmölders
      Pages 45-64
  4. Projecting Outer Space

  5. Visualizing Outer Space

  6. Encountering Outer Space

  7. Inscribing Outer Space

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 265-265

About this book


Imagining Outer Space makes a captivating advance into the cultural history of outer space and extraterrestrial life in the European imagination. How was outer space conceived and communicated? What promises of interplanetary expansion and cosmic colonization propelled the project of human spaceflight to the forefront of twentieth-century modernity? In what way has West-European astroculture been affected by the continuous exploration of outer space? Tracing the thriving interest in spatiality to early attempts at exploring imaginary worlds beyond our own, the book analyzes contact points between science and fiction from a transdisciplinary perspective and examines sites and situations where utopian images and futuristic technologies contributed to the omnipresence of fantasmatic thought. Bringing together state-of-the-art work in this emerging field of historical research, the volume breaks new ground in the historicization of the Space Age.


20. Jahrhundert 20th century empire Europe fascism fiction France Germany history media

Editors and affiliations

  • Alexander C. T. Geppert
    • 1
  1. 1.Freie Universitát BerlinGermany

About the editors

Alexander C.T. Geppert is Associate Professor of History and European Studies and Global Network Associate Professor at New York University Shanghai, as well as NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies in New York City. From 2010 to 2016 he directed the Emmy Noether Research Group ‘The Future in the Stars: European Astroculture and Extraterrestrial Life in the Twentieth Century’ at Freie Universität Berlin.

Bibliographic information


"As a whole, the volume succeeds in demonstrating the relevance and importance of these three threads and arguments. Each from a different author, each of whom stems from a different disciplinary background, the 15 chapters that follow the introduction emphasise and reflect each of the threads to different degrees. Together, the chapters survey an excellent variety of topics that fall under the 'astroculture' umbrella. Further research into European astroculture would be a valuable contribution to other social and cultural histories of Europe and to wider understandings of human engagements with outer space. [This book] is a giant leap in that direction." (Jason Beery, European Review of History/Revue europeenne d'histoire)

"This volume's fifteen diverse essays, substantive introduction, and valuable epilogue all examine various aspects of 'astroculture' by considering and configuring the cultural and social significance of the Space Age both to and within the Atomic Age. … The diverse voices and visions … provide ample opportunities for interested readers to change-out comfortable disciplinary lenses and linguistic and conceptual toolboxes for unfamiliar optics and methodological approaches to outer space and space exploration that must surely transcend transnational and transdisciplinary boundaries. … Fascinating." (Pamela Gossin, Isis)

"Revelatory . . . It certainly fills a gap." (Jon Agar, British Journal for the History of Science)

"Imagining Outer Space offers rich potential in explaining the infatuation of spaceflight by Europeans of many different nationalities and cultures. It may well jump-start a new approach to the history of spaceflight, something beyond the well-worn space-policy and geopolitical studies that are so much a part of the field. Without question, astrocultural investigation is one of the more interesting and original efforts to restructure spaceflight history in the early twenty-first century." (Roger D. Launius, Technology and Culture)

"With its emphasis on multidisciplinarity, and its wide variety of contributions, topics, and themes, Imagining Outer Space demonstrates the rich potential that astrocultural studies holds for the field of the history of spaceflight, while at the same time, it truly contains something for everyone." (Janet Vertesi, Quest)

"Offers an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to the cultural and social history of the space age in Europe. While it offers fascinating insights into the European context, it is its redrawing of the disciplinary boundaries of space history that should be most applauded . . . Highly recommended." (Anke Ortlepp, H-Soz-u-Kult)

"This is clearly an important contribution to the literature and a stimulus to ongoing and future debates and endeavours in the intertwining realms of culture, space and technology." (Derek Hall, Space Policy)

"Europe too has a history of imagining outer space, distinct from yet inextricably linked with global cultures of perceiving and experiencing the universe. This splendid volume offers a fascinating panorama of visions of the future. Anyone interested in the complex relationship between technology, space, and culture will garner much from this groundbreaking work." (Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum)

"Imagining Outer Space . . . takes a step in the right direction by defining the concept of astroculture and offering some interesting examples of relevant research." (The Space Review)