archæology of steampunk

Just a minute ago I pre-ordered ‘Steampunk: kurz & geek’ (Jahnke & Rauchfuß 2012) after I had read Kueperpunk’s review (he has a reviewer’s copy). It reminded me of Ekaterina Sedia’s introduction (Sedia 2012) in ‘The Mammoth Book of Steampunk’ (Wallace 2012):

With the recent release of The Steampunk Bible (ed. Jeff VanderMeer and SJ Chambers [2011]), it seems that steampunk as a genre finally came into its own and has grown enough to demand its own compendium, summarizing various parts of this remarkably protean movement, and pointing out interesting things happening in its DIY culture, cosplay, film, literature and music. The fact that the steampunk esthetic penetrates all aspects and art forms indicates that it is remarkably malleable and yet recognizable. We often see steampunk as gears and goggles glued to top hats, but this impression is of course superficial, and there is much more complexity to the fashion and maker aspects of it – just take a look at the Steampunk Workshop website by Jake Von Slatt if you don’t believe me! And yet, much like pornography, all of these expressions conform to a common pattern – difficult to describe beyond the superficial, but one just knows it when one sees it. (Sedia 2012: 1)

When we try to grasp steampunk in the sense of Foucault’s ‘Archaeology of Knowledge’ (Foucault 1972 [1969]) the ‘common pattern’ and the concept of the technologically driven alternative course of history becomes tangible, I guess. Additionally effects like steampunk’s spilling over to Latin America become understandable, too.

FOUCAULT, MICHEL. 1972 [1969]. The archaeology of knowledge. London: Tavistock Publications. First published as L’Archéologie du Savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
JAHNKE, ALEX AND MARCUS RAUCHFUß. 2012. Steampunk: kurz & geek. Sebastopol: O’Reilly
SEDIA, EKATERINA. 2012. “Steampunk: Looking to the future through the lens of the past,” in The mammoth book of steampunk edited by Sean Wallace, pp. 1-3. London: Constable & Robinson.
VANDERMEER, JEFF AND S. J. CHAMBERS. 2011. The steampunk bible: An illustrated guide to the world of imaginary airships, corsets and goggles, mad scientists, and strange literature. New York: Abrams Image.
WALLACE, SEAN (ed.). 2012. The mammoth book of steampunk: 30 extraordinary tales. London: Constable & Robinson.
‘Steampunk—kurz & geek’ via entry at kueperpunk