Being, Well, in Outer Space: A Century of Space Exploration in the Popular Imagination

Dan Steward, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

After celebrating various Apollo-anniversaries, NASA is again showing great promise in the exploration of outer space. The James Webb Space Telescope is helping us look back in cosmic time, and the Artemis program looks forward to a permanent presence on the moon. NASA's work in the present involves ventures in cooperation with other nation-states as well as private sector organizations. This paper/presentation looks back through various texts to explore the changing significance of space exploration (and exploitation) over the course of the Twentieth Century and into the present time. Using the "New York Times" as a key corpus, connections are made with discussions of outer space both in popular culture (e.g., novels, films) and among scholars and public intellectuals. Special attention is given to the political controversies surrounding public support for space exploration, the globalization and privatization of space exploration, and the significance of these for education in the U.S.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 203. Envisioning Knowledge: Aesthetics, Science, and Publics