Kari Nixon
Scholar of Medical Humanities and Victorian Literature




In this article, I identify a critical oversight in Strindberg scholarship which has misread or left unread the use of Spectroscopy in his 1887 play, The Father. When we taken into account Strindberg’s enthusiasm for science, and a proper understanding of Victorian spectroscopes, the meaning of the play changes entirely, going from bleak tragedy to dark comedy.

citation info:  “Seeing Things: The Dilemma of Visual Subjectivity at the Dawn of the Bacteriological Age in Strindberg’s The Father.Configurations: A Journal of Literature and Science 26.2 (2016).

Text-type Considered:


Texts included:

The Father, 1887

Conceptual Influences:

Bruno Latour, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Jonathan Crary




“The play is not representative of merely an additional bleak tale in the oeuvre of a rather depressing author (as it has traditionally been read); rather, it is a complex and nuanced argument about the impossibility of infallible truth claims or perfect knowledge systems. The Father serves to warn audiences against unquestioning faith in hegemonic authority as it simultaneously invites viewers to embrace mystery and UNCERTAINTY in secularized modernity.”