Worlds of Steampunk

Fiction, Art, Fashion and Culture

Peter J. Shields Lobby
Fall Quarter 2012 - Winter Quarter 2013

Steampunk Poster
(Click the image to view a larger version)

The exhibit features a selection of books and other materials related to Steampunk.

What is Steampunk?

The term “steampunk” was coined in the 1980s to describe a subgenre of science fiction. It incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, clockworks and fantastic technology, and is influenced by Victorian esthetics. Steampunk themes typically look back to the scientific and technological advances made during the Industrial Revolution and in the late 19th century for inspiration. Like their antecedents, including the novels of Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea) and H.G. Wells (The Time Machine), modern Steampunk fiction features dirigibles, balloons, everything powered by steam, and mechanical contraptions of all kinds.

Steampunk has grown beyond its roots in fiction to define an entire subculture. Subculture devotees have spawned a unique fashion style. The influence of Victorian or Edwardian styles of dress is clearly referenced and embellished with goggles, corsets, fancy top hats, and all manner of mechanical accessories decorated with wheels, cogs, gears, clockworks and other imaginative devices to form a distinctive style based on vintage looks and textures.

Movies with Steampunk themes are a visual celebration of style, dress and imaginative fantasy elements. Steampunk art is wildly inventive, with many artists working in metal, wood, graphics and combining many media to create objects. Objects restored from old devices for new and modern purposes and new gadgets with a Victorian or retro look and style are becoming very popular.

Would you like to learn more?  Please take a look in the display cases on the first floor of Shields Library. Most of the books in the exhibit are also available to check out from the library’s collection. We hope you enjoy the exhibit.

View our libguide on Steampunk ( for more information and links to resources.

For a thorough bibliography of Steampunk literature, research and resources, see:  Steampunk Bibliography prepared by Roberto C. Delgadillo. (

Exhibit prepared by Roberto C. Delgadillo and Marcia Meister, Humanities, Social Sciences and Government Information Service, Shields Library.