Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




English (MA)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Caroline Krzakowski


This thesis argues that the relationship between nineteenth-century geology and paleontology play a role in imperial ambitions of countries and characters in science fiction novels. Two novels are analyzed— Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne and The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—using the theories of Edward Said and Michel Foucault. I pay specific attention to the idea of knowledge serving as power in imperial exploration, and how the control of knowledge allows for the empowerment of imperialist characters in the texts.

By reading the novels as imperial narratives, I have found that the scientific expeditions at the heart of each novel rely on the legitimating effects of science as well as scientific methodology to successfully further the personal and social aims of the protagonists. Systems of thought such as natural theology justify not only the right of the characters to explore other nations, but also the right of the explorers to use the colonized country’s resources for their own personal gain. The methodology of science—particularly the recording of data to support claims and the ability to replicate results—ensure the success of the protagonists in a way physical violence cannot.

Access Type

Open Access