Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815

Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815

by Ken Alder
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0691009694

ISBN-13: 9780691009698

Pub. Date: 07/19/1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution together inaugurated the modern era. But recent historical "revisionists" have divorced eighteenth-century material conditions from concurrent political struggles. This book's anti-teleological approach repudiates technological determinism to document the forging of a new relationship between technology and politics in

Overview

The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution together inaugurated the modern era. But recent historical "revisionists" have divorced eighteenth-century material conditions from concurrent political struggles. This book's anti-teleological approach repudiates technological determinism to document the forging of a new relationship between technology and politics in Revolutionary France. It does so through the history of a particular artifact--the gun. Expanding the "political" to include conflict over material objects, Ken Alder rethinks the nature of engineering rationality, the origins of mass production, and our interpretation of the French Revolution.

Near the end of the Enlightenment, a cadre of artillery engineers transformed the design, production, and deployment of military guns. Part 1 shows how the gun, the first artifact amenable to scientific analysis, was redesigned by engineers committed to new meritocratic forms of technological knowledge and how the Revolutionaries and artillery officer Napoleon exploited their techno-social designs.

Part 2 shows how the gun became the first artifact to be mass producedwith interchangeable parts, as French engineers deployed "objective" drawings and automatic machinery to enforce production standards in the face of artisanal resistance. And Part 3 places the gun at the center of a technocratic revolution led by engineers on the Committee of Public Safety, a revolution whose failure inaugurated modern capitalist techno-politics. This book offers a challenging demonstration of how material artifacts emerge as the negotiated outcome of political struggle.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691009698
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/19/1999
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.18(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.04(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: A Revolution of Engineers? 3

Part 1 Engineering Design: Capital into Coercion, 1763-1793

Chapter 1 The Last Argument of the King 23

Chapter 2 A Social Epistemology of Enlightenment Engineering 56

Chapter 3 Design and Deployment 87

Part 2 Engineering Production: Coercion into Capital, 1763-1793

Chapter 4 The Tools of Practical Reason 127

Chapter 5 The Saint-Etienne Armory: Musket-Making and the End of the Ancien Régime 163

Chapter 6 Inventing Interchangeability: Mechanical Ideals, Political Realities 221

Part 3 Engineering Society: Technocracy and Revolution, 1794-1815

Chapter 7 The Machine in the Revolution 253

Chapter 8 Terror, Technocracy, Thermidor 292

Chapter 9 Technological Amnesia and the Entrepreneurial Order 319

Conclusion 344

Abbreviations 353

Notes 355

Bibliography 421

Index 457

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >