Punking the Past: The Steampunk Aesthetic

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

Helena Esser studied Anglophone Literature and History at the University of Duisburg-Essen, from which she graduated with a BA thesis on retrofuturist feminism in steampunk literature and an MA thesis on female identity in WW1 memoirs. She is currently busy trying to coordinate her many research interests, which include steampunk subculture, cityscapes, cyborgs, and airship pirates, Ouida, WW1 history, Terry Pratchett, and cyberpunk. You can find her on Twitter @EsserHelena

What is steampunk?

In recent years, a peculiar phenomenon has flourished and populated our culture with steampunk novels, short stories, music, films, cosplays, festivals, sculptures, and fashion. Yet it seems both easy to identify and difficult to define: what is steampunk?

This is a question steampunks (and aspiring literary scholars working on the field) are asked constantly – and one that they often ask themselves. In 2007, Steampunk Magazine’s first issue was launched with this question as its leading…

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