American Technological Sublime / Edition 1

American Technological Sublime / Edition 1

by David E. Nye
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262640341

ISBN-13: 9780262640343

Pub. Date: 02/28/1996

Publisher: MIT Press

Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense of selfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better or worse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications of technological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the

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Overview

Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense of selfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better or worse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications of technological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the social construction of technology that David Nye began in his award-winning book Electrifying America. Here Nye examines the continuing appeal of the "technological sublime" (a term coined by Perry Miller) as a key to the nation's history, using as examples the natural sites, architectural forms, and technological achievements that ordinary people have valued intensely.

American Technological Sublime is a study of the politics of perception in industrial society. Arranged chronologically, it suggests that the sublime itself has a history - that sublime experiences are emotional configurations that emerge from new social and technological conditions, and that each new configuration to some extent undermines and displaces the older versions. After giving a short history of the sublime as an aesthetic category, Nye describes the reemergence and democratization of the concept in the early nineteenth century as an expression of the American sense of specialness.

What has filled the American public with wonder, awe, even terror? David Nye selects the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Erie Canal, the first transcontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the major international expositions, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, the Empire State Building, and Boulder Dam. He then looks at the atom bomb tests and the Apollo mission as examples of the increasing ambivalence of the technological sublime in the postwar world. The festivities surrounding the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 become a touchstone reflecting the transformation of the American experience of the sublime over two centuries. Nye concludes with a vision of the modern-day "consumer sublime" as manifested in the fantasy world of Las Vegas.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262640343
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
02/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
1The Sublime1
2The American Sublime17
3The Railroad: The Dynamic Sublime45
4Bridges and Skyscrapers: The Geometrical Sublime77
5The Factory: From the Pastoral Mill to the Industrial Sublime109
6The Electrical Sublime: The Double of Technology143
7The Electric Cityscape: The Unintended Sublime173
8Synthesis: The 1939 New York World's Fair199
9Atomic Bomb and Apollo XI: New Forms of the Dynamic Sublime225
10Rededicating the Statue of Liberty257
11The Consumer's Sublime281
Notes297
Bibliography343
Index355

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