This essay investigates a selection of nineteenth century fiction stories in relation to the concept of 'tele-vision'. It seems that novelists were not able to imagine the possibility of disembodied observation before 1876 that is before the invention of the telephone. It was not until after 1876 that several fiction stories started to integrate 'tele-vision' devices. The idea that the eye can observe things that are located at a different place to that of the body recalls Jonathan Crary's theory of the observer. According to Crary the nineteenth century changed the way people experienced reality: embodied vision made room for a modus of observation in which only the eyes could perceive the reality. Whereas Crary situates this shift at the beginning of the nineteenth century this essay shows that disembodied observation did not infiltrate the imagination of novelists (their novels and consequently the imagination of their readers) until the second half of the nineteenth century.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Duisters, Anton. (2005). Het kijkglas. Negentiende-eeuwse fantasieën over televisie. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 8(1), 63–85. doi:10.18146/tmg.539