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Devices of CuriosityEarly Cinema and Popular Science$
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Oliver Gaycken

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860685.001.0001

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A Modern Cabinet of Curiosities

A Modern Cabinet of Curiosities

George Kleine’s Collection of Popular-Science Films

(p.129) {Chapter 4} A Modern Cabinet of Curiosities
Devices of Curiosity

Oliver Gaycken

Oxford University Press

In 1910 George Kleine published an ambitious catalogue of “educational motion picture films” that consisted of titles he had collected from a number of European companies, notably Pathé, Gaumont, and Urban. This chapter argues that Kleine’s catalogue demonstrates a peculiarity whose origin can be traced back to an ambivalence in the concept of curiosity itself. On the one hand, his project was aligned with modern pedagogical research that argued for education via visual means as the most efficient form of instruction. Simultaneously, however, Kleine’s film catalogue recalls the cabinets of curiosity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The catalogue’s most successful and well-documented film, The Fly Pest, exemplifies this dynamic, oscillating between a hygienic argument that construes the fly as a disease vector and an appreciation of the magnified fly images that participates in the aesthetics of wonder.

Keywords:   George Kleine, educational films, cabinet of curiosity, The Fly Pest, wonder

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