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The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American
     

The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American

by Carolyn Thomas de la Pena, Carolyn Thomas Pena
 

ISBN-10: 081471983X

ISBN-13: 9780814719831

Pub. Date: 04/01/2005

Publisher: New York University Press

Between the years 1850 and 1950, Americans became the leading energy consumers on the planet, expending tremendous physical resources on energy exploration, mental resources on energy exploitation, and monetary resources on energy acquisition. A unique combination of pseudoscientific theories of health and the public’s rudimentary understanding of energy

Overview

Between the years 1850 and 1950, Americans became the leading energy consumers on the planet, expending tremendous physical resources on energy exploration, mental resources on energy exploitation, and monetary resources on energy acquisition. A unique combination of pseudoscientific theories of health and the public’s rudimentary understanding of energy created an age in which sources of industrial power seemed capable of curing the physical limitations and ill health that plagued Victorian bodies. Licensed and “quack” physicians alike promoted machines, electricity, and radium as invigorating cures, veritable “fountains of youth” that would infuse the body with energy and push out disease and death.

The Body Electric is the first book to place changing ideas about fitness and gender in dialogue with the popular culture of technology. Whether through wearing electric belts, drinking radium water, or lifting mechanized weights, many Americans came to believe that by embracing the nation's rapid march to industrialization, electrification, and “radiomania,” their bodies would emerge fully powered. Only by uncovering this belief’s passions and products, Thomas de la Peña argues, can we fully understand our culture’s twentieth-century energy enthusiasm.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814719831
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Series:
American History and Culture Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
329
Sales rank:
1,352,661
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction
1 The Machine-Built Body
2 Measuring Mechanical Strength
3 Exploring Electric Limits
4 Powering the Intimate Body
5 “Radiomania” Limits the Energy Dream
Conclusion: The End of an Era?
Notes
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

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