At AAU, classes are split up into fifteen modules. During Fall and Spring semesters, that means one module per week. Module 2 officially starts tomorrow, though I've read ahead for Preproduction.
This module is on doing the research for a project. We're learning about how preproduction helps in movies, television, and games, but of course the principals apply to our thesis projects as well.
So, I went to the library today, and checked out a handful of books on the Old West and on Nineteenth Century England. I just wish there were more pictures! That's one of the benefits of children's books over books for adults. They cover essential knowledge in an easy format, so if you're new to a topic, they're a great place to start.
Anyway, I also found this AboutBritain page on Victorian England. The direction of my thinking is this: What if the wild invention ideas of the nineteenth century were actually possible; what if steam power could actually provide the power for them? That's the basis of Steampunk, I know. But then, how would this affect the United States? So, I'm seeing where that takes me.
That AboutBritain page is already helping me fill in some broad strokes. It's fun reading through material and taking notes on what might have been.