Cosmic and Terrestrial Aliens in the German Renaissance

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The concept of the humanoid alien has been with us from the Middle Ages to themost recent manifestations of science fiction. Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the alien creatures imagined by Paracelsus have nurtured fantasiesof a soulless humanoid counterpart. The article explores the intellectual history ofthe soulless alien in order to reveal that the philosophical-theological origins ofthe concept spring from a current of intellectual speculation that began in theMiddle Ages, revived in the sixteenth century, stimulating Valentin Weigel, aswell as Paracelsus, and that has a significant echo in our modern cinematicfantasies.


This article was originally published as “Cosmic and Terrestrial Aliens in the German Renaissance,” Daphnis. Zeitschrift für Mittlere Deutsche Literatur und Kultur der Frühen Neuzeit (1400-1750). 33:1-2 (2004): pp. 255-266.