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Multiplying WorldsRomanticism, Modernity, and the Emergence of Virtual Reality$
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Peter Otto

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567676.001.0001

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(p.107) 5 Phantasmagoria
Multiplying Worlds

Peter Otto (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Most histories of the phantasmagoria are preoccupied with the relation between its moving pictures and the cinema, and focus on its technology—the ‘real’ that enables its illusions—rather than on the culture that frames it. This chapter argues that gothic fiction conditions the form, content, and reception of the phantasmagoria, which in turn developed early magic-lantern shows to the point where they could repeat for spectators the sense of immersion in a real-unreality experienced by readers of gothic fictions. The chapter focuses on Etienne-Gaspard Robertson's and Paul Philipshal's Phantasmagoria entertainments, on the real-unrealities (the virtual realities) they conjured, and on the astonishment they provoked in audiences. Revising Theodor Adorno's and Terry Castle's influential accounts of the phantasmagoria, its argument leads the reader, in the concluding sections of the chapter, to the unreal-realities of dreams, Romantic explorations of the phantasmagoria projected by the body, and finally the phantasms and nightmares of history.

Keywords:   phantasmagoria, history of cinema, Paul Philipsthal, Etienne-Gaspard Robertson, gothic fiction, dream, popular entertainments, virtual reality, Theodor Adorno, Terry Castle

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