Again, I’m not cleaning this up. Start at the bottom and read up. Slotting his away for later processing. Jess runs the Slouching Toward Bethlehem blog.

  1. (end lecture. Numerous questions follow, several of the Not A Question But A Comment variety, the bane of all academic conference panels)

  2. (Let’s just say that India does very well for itself in creating superhumans. Jai Hind, y’all!)

  3. Tomorrow, if I remember to bring in the notebook I wrote all this down in, I’ll give a statistical rundown of superhumans 1902-1936.

  4. That brings us up to the 20th century.

  5. Good example is Madame Felician, in Wirt Gerrare’s novel. Psychic femme fatale spy–abilities justified on Theosophical grounds.

  6. Rise in spiritualism movement leads to Theosophy, which leads to Theosophical novels with superhuman & psychic characters.

  7. Meanwhile…

  8. (Almost done, folks)

  9. He can can “place four packs of playing cards together, and tear them in halves between his thumbs and fingers.”

  10. He can can “lift a horse with ease…while a heavy man is seated in the saddle….”

  11. Nick Carter, Doc Savage forty years early, has superhuman strength:

  12. Old King Brady has mystic gift of intuiton because he’s Irish. (Superhuman effort on my part results in no joke being made here).

  13. Old Sleuth, first recurring, serialized detective, had superhuman strength and endurance. So did Old Cap. Collier.

  14. And the major serial heroes of the dime novels (which were precursors to the pulps) had superhuman powers.

  15. American reaction to romans feuilleton was the dime novel, which led to serial heroes.

  16. (check audience. No reaction. Sigh. Decide to give up on the jokes and just finish the damn thing).

  17. Wells’ Invisible Man gets his power through scientific experimentation, as did Queen Victoria.

  18. their powers to being the end result of human evolution–possibly the first use of that trope in sf.

  19. Louis Boussenard’s 10000 Years in a Block of Ice (1889) has Big Headed Psychic Dwarf Geniuses. But Boussenard specifically credits

  20. magnetic fluid theory of animal magnetism.

  21. And the psychotic lead in J. Maclaren Cobban’s “Master of His Fate” drains the “spirit of life” from others, a reference to the

  22. Paul du Peyral, in Edward Heron-Allen’s Princess Daphne (1888), has psychic abilities, but carries out experiments to test & broaden them.

  23. Which as origin stories go could be much worse, and certainly trumps a bat flying through a window.

  24. she was “poisoned by the venom of a crotalus before she was born.”

  25. Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Elsie Venner is femme fatale with literally mesmerizing gaze & power over snakes. Per Holmes, she got her powers thus

  26. Second American response: materialist reaction to occult fantasy–the creation of the Origin Story.

  27. (audience has no reaction. Sigh. Check audience. Still alive? Not sure. Replaced with store dummies? Possibly. Carry on)

  28. (check audience for reaction to idea that author of Little Women wrote a story about a Hindu mesmerist w/hereditary curse).

  29. Secondary example is Louisa May Alcott’s “The Fate of the Forrests,” in which the love triangle is more important than the hereditary curse

  30. Primary example is Fitz-James O’Brien’s “The Diamond Lens,” in which existence of superpowered medium is accepted as part of city life.

  31. First is “the occult without the occult,” stories w/occult-powered characters, but stories lack all occult trappings or background.

  32. Several reactions to the Gothic & the Occult Fantasy genre take place.

  33. Meanwhile, Back In America.

  34. (I cover by claiming that I was telepathically sending them the next portion of my lecture).

  35. (This is so at odds with my experience teaching freshmen that I am momentarily struck dumb).

  36. (check audience. Only two people have left, most people are at least looking at me rather than texting).

  37. Sorcerer & mystic in Emeric Hulme-Beaman’s Ozmar the Mystic (1896).

  38. Shape-shifting Egyptian priestess of Isis in Richard Marsh’s The Beetle (1897).

  39. Egyptian psychic & mesmerist in Mrs. Campbell Praed’s The Brother of the Shadow (1886).

  40. Occult Fantasy genre gives us: sorcerer/psychic/mesmerist in Bulwer-Lytton’s A Strange Story (1861-1862).

  41. (I see I’ve already lost one Follower. Perhaps I’m just not tweeting enough about what I ate for lunch).

  42. Zanoni is influenced by the Rosicrucians (them again) and is primarily responsible for the Occult Fantasy genre.

  43. As Mysteries of Paris is being published, so is Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni, about an immortal superpowered Chaldean sorcerer.

  44. Meanwhile…

  45. Nick of the Woods. But Feval, a Frenchy, created the superhuman superhero. I fully expect our conservative friends to now boycott comics.

  46. Not the first dual-identity costume-wearing vigilante–that was Robert Montgomery Byrd’s reprehensible Indian Killer character in his

  47. And wolf’s head hood made of wolf’s head. Protagonist is first superpowered costume-wearing vigilante.

  48. Jumping back twenty years: Paul Feval’s White Wolf, 1837, about a Breton vigilante fighting French while wearing costume of wolfskin.

  49. Ahem: also the dime novel & penny dreadful format.

  50. Mysteries of Paris has 500 imitations in 20 languages, is responsible for 1850s renovation of Paris. Also the dime novel & penny dreadfu

  51. (No one gets joke or smiles. Shrug, labor forward).

  52. (Describe flow chart of influences as mess of arrows and dotted lines, a kind of Lovecraftian Flying Spaghetti Monster)

  53. (Aside to audience about how I’m all over the place chronologically, and how coming up with coherent linear narrative here is impossible).

  54. (Two minute discursion on Cagliostro as proto-Occult Detective, as early example of Celebrity Culture, and his part in Egyptian craze).

  55. Rinaldo Rinaldini has Cagliostro-like superhuman, the Old Man of Fronteja.

  56. German rauberroman (robber novel) influenced Mysteries of Paris, esp. Christian Vulpius’ Rinaldo Rinaldini.

  57. Von Gerolstein had Plot Power to patrol city,be wherever author needed him to be,do whatever author needed him to do.As I said, proto-Batman

  58. Most important roman feuilleton, Eugene Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris (1842-1843), had proto-Batman, Rodolphe von Gerolstein.

  59. Financial model of Gothics & colporteur novels led to romans feuilleton, French serialized novels.

  60. (Best selling German novel of 19th century: colporteur Grand Guignol novel, The Hangman of Berlin, 1890-1892. Even better than its title).

  61. Gothic: often published in serial form. German version of serial form was colporteur novel, sold by colporteurs, wandering peddlers.

  62. (Pause for a moment to catch breath & let audience get the yawns and scratches out of their system).

  63. (Plus, of course, superpowered sorcerers & witches).

  64. Victor Hugo’s Hans of the Island (1823): titular protagonist is a superstrong dwarf.

  65. Honore de Balzac’s The Centenarian (1822): the protagonist gets vampiric superhuman abilities through the secrets of the Rosicrucians.

  66. Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820): John Melmoth gets various Plot Powers as a result of the deal with the devil.

  67. (Obvious influence there is Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland)

  68. George Lipscomb’s The Grey Friar and the Black Spirit of the Wye (1810): costumed outlaw with super-ventriloquism.

  69. All of which fed into the superhumans of the Gothics.

  70. And, of course, the Rosicrucians, those frauds, gave the Gothic the Superpowered Emo Wandering Slap Me Immortal.

  71. Later in the 19th century, the ritterroman would produce The White Knight, a knights-in-armor story of a superpowered knight.(It ends badly)

  72. Also contributing to the Gothic was German popular literature–ritterroman, the räuberroman, and the schauerroman.

  73. Arabian Fantasies led to Beckford’s Vathek, which gave a lot to the Gothics.

  74. The second beginning was the Gothic. But–Arabian Fantasies fed into the Gothic, especially the one about the superpowered Yellow Peril.

  75. Skip forward 2000 years.

  76. In the beginning was Gilgamesh & Enkidu.

  77. “The Evolution of the Concept of the Superhuman”

  78. I have some time to burn before my next class, so–my Pop Culture Assoc. of America presentation, in Twitter form: