Subcultures: Steampunk Websites, A Guarantee of Unique Amusement
by Patty Teague (Home Delivery Coordinator, Warren County Public Library, Bowling Green, KY)
Column Editor: Jack G. Montgomery (Professor, Coordinator, Collection Services, Western Kentucky University Libraries)
Column Editor’s Note: Several years ago, as our musical group Watersprite began playing at an outdoor festival near Nashville, Tennessee, I could not help noticing several people in rather unique costumes wandering in the crowd. During our break, I approached them to find that they belonged to a subculture called “Steampunk,” which one member of the group called “a serious lifestyle choice.” Being fascinated with subcultures and alternative lifestyles since the 1970s, I explored the Steampunk phenomenon and discovered that this movement started as a genre of speculative science fiction that takes its inspiration from the outdated 19th-century steam powered machinery, as well as Edwardian and Victorian culture, and turned it into a literary vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where steam and the complex machinery it powered have returned to prominence in an alternate version of history. It is also a social reaction to modern mass production, anti-individualism that seeks to return to handcrafted, individually reengineered products that feature exposed gear work and attention to elaborate styling. — JM
This vision has inspired an entire movement in aesthetics, art, music, fashion, literature, cultural events, and movies that reflect an encompassing lifestyle which has spawned its own community. Though Steampunk as a term did not emerge into mainstream culture until the 1980s, some of its thematic roots go back to the 1920s with movies like Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi masterpiece, “Metropolis,” and even to various 19th-century novels by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Other visual media expressions include 1960s television’s pseudo-western, “The Wild, Wild West” and films like the Japanese animation classic “Howl’s Moving Castle,” as well as movies like “Hellboy,” “Brazil,” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” to name a few. All of these expressions elaborate the dark, often anachronistic, claustrophobic, yet romantic vision of Steampunk. In my travels, I located a local individual who is currently active in the Steampunk movement and known to be an authority. Even more special is the fact that she is professionally associated with our local public library. These are her recommended sites and annotations.
General Steampunk Information Sites
www.steampunkbible.com — An online outgrowth of a print book of the same name, The Steampunk Bible attempts to index Websites, artists, authors, and makers who are significant to the Steampunk community.
www.steampunk.com — A blog chronicling all things Steampunk. This blog covers Steampunk in popular culture and media, such as television shows and fiction, a resources Website list, guests, jewelry, every aspect of Steampunk.
www.clockworkcouture.com — This is a retail clothing site with reasonable prices.
www.steampunkemporium.com — Another clothing site providing more traditional period piece clothing for everyone, especially accessories for both men and women, and it also has a sales page.
Accoutrements and Accessories
www.museumreplicas.com — A Website of purchasable replicas of historic items and articles, including a Steampunk collection. This site goes further than just clothes, into weapons, jewelry, gadgets, and décor items.
www.blondeswan.com — This is a site almost exclusively dedicated to hats of all kinds, of high-quality construction.
http://www.steampunk-music.com/ — This would be the online music magazine for Steampunk. Their tag line says it all — “the Sound of a World that might have been.”
http://www.abneypark.com — Abney Park formed in Seattle and is a tasty blend of industrial and world music with Steampunk-flavored lyrics.
http://www.thomasdolby.com — Yes, that Thomas Dolby. After blinding us with science, he kept going with atmospheric music. His latest work is music for an immersive multi-player game, “A Map of the Floating City.”
http://www.clockworkquartet.com/ — The members of the Clockwork Quartet vary in age from 13 to 28, according to their site which began as a multi-media project, with a graphic novel, art, and music. They specialize in ballads of an alternate England, tales of love, and revenge.
www.professorelemental.com/fr_home.cfm — Hip-hop Steampunk. “Cup of Brown Joy” extols the virtues of tea and the pleasures of being heavily caffeinated.
Early Steampunk was much characterized by personal creation of gear and wardrobe to project the desired appearance.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Steampunk/ — All sorts of different creators from around the world display their work and give step-by-step instructions that the reader can follow to make their own Steampunk devices and accoutrements.
Public Events Associated with Steampunk
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?action=tags;sa=showtopics;tag=steampunk#axzz2cf2n1lYA — Craftster also has people posting their Steampunk creations with pictures and instructions.
Gatherings of like-minded individuals.
www.anachrocon.com — Held in February in Atlanta, this is a gathering of around 1,000 Steampunk people, with informative panels and space to socialize in Steampunk fashion.
www.steampunkworldsfair.com — The World’s Fair, if it were Steampunk, which is held once a year in May in New Jersey.
www.facebook.com/Steampunk.com — Amusing feed of Steampunk tidbits, memes, couture, hairstyles, on a social networking feed, to keep your Steampunk spirits up and protect you from the daily monotony.
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.