The Languages of Edison's Light

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Overview

Technology is business, and dealing with the media, the public, financiers, and government agencies can be as important to an invention's success as effective product development.

To understand how rhetoric works in technology, one cannot do better than to start with the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison and the incandescent light bulb.Charles Bazerman tells the story of the emergence of electric light as one of symbols and communication. He examines how Edison and his colleagues represented light and power to themselves and to others as the technology was transformed from an idea to a daily fact of life. He looks at the rhetoric used to create meaning and value for the emergent technology in the laboratory, in patent offices and courts, in financial markets, and in boardrooms, city halls, newspapers, and the consumer marketplace. Along the way he describes the social and communicative arrangements that shaped and transformed the world in which Edison acted.

He portrays Edison, both the individual and the corporation, as a self-conscious social actor whose rhetorical groundwork was crucial to the technology's material realization and success.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262024563
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/1999
  • Series: Inside Technology
  • Pages: 434
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bazerman is Chair and Professor in the Department of Education at the University ofCalifornia, Santa Barbara.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
How the Edison Papers Are Cited
Credit for Illustrations
Introduction 1
I The Opening Scene
1 Edison's Front-Page Story 9
II Establishing Meanings in Evolving Systems
2 The Public Stage of News 23
3 Finances for Technological Enterprises 39
4 Menlo Park: The Place of Invention 47
5 Patents as Speech Acts and Legal Objects 85
6 Professional Presence: Edison in the Technical Press 111
7 A Place in the Market 141
III Making It Real: The Rhetoric of Material Presence
8 Boasts, Deceptions, and Promises 159
9 The Menlo Park Demonstrations 179
10 Fairs and Exhibitions: Museums of the Future 199
11 Lighting New York: Urban Politics and Pedestrian Appearances 219
IV Establishing Enduring Values
12 Patent Realities: Legal Stabilization of Indeterminate Texts 237
13 Charisma and Communication in Edison's Organizations 259
14 Rhetoric of Capital Investment: Solvency, Profits, and Dividends 291
15 The Language of Flowers: Domesticating Electric Light 313
Conclusion 333
Notes 351
Bibliography 397
Index 411
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