By Kenneth W. Harrow

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37 Although there are important differences between Pepper’s protodramatic science fictions and Morton’s more loosely conceived form of phantasmagorical theater, both gave their popular scientific entertainments a visual grammar that is still being adapted for science fiction cinema more than a century later. ”39 A more detailed description of “A Strange Lecture” can be found in Pepper’s The True History of the Ghost; and all about Metempsychosis (1890), which traces the etiology of the stage design for the lecture’s ghost illusion from its genesis in a model constructed by Henry Dircks some years earlier to the improvements suggested by Pepper and Sylvester.

22 In so many of the settings for popular scientific display this was not only figuratively but literally the case. ”23 Like the natural magicians whose instruments they inherited, popular science demonstrators did not concern themselves with demonstrating scientific process. 24 In order to intensify viewers’ experience of these objects and phenomena, popular science lecturers utilized all the techniques known to the conjuring professions for eliciting surprise and curiosity. To illustrate the advantages of a demonstration that conceals its modus operandi over one that does not, Brewster offers the example of the distorted image that is reflected in a mirror whose surface has a variable curvature.

A single point well made and well wrought out in a short article suits them better than exhaustive essays; and facts, rather than theories are sought by them. ”94 Clearly, the transformation of “facts” into the short, illustrated articles favored by Scientific American did not involve the same process of translation as that used to produce the lengthier, more theoretically inclined essays found in other journals. The key to understanding this difference—and to understanding how the knowledges and forms of engagement associated with the connoisseurship of effects were organized in this magazine—lies in identifying the different attitudes to reception that these two forms of translation implied.

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