This paper examines two classic Victorian visual representations that were neither fictional nor figurative, and yet were nonetheless suppositional in some way: John Snow’s 1855 map of the Broad Street cholera outbreak and Charles Darwin’s “tree of life” graph from The Origin of Species (1859). I argue that the use of signs peculiar to these diagrams anticipates the logic of representation implicit in contemporary theories and practices of virtual reality. I also suggest that the overlapping of these phenomena points to a broader modern category of “evidence of other worlds” distinct from the traditional domains of rhetoric, fiction, or illusionism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Sociology and Political Science
- Literature and Literary Theory