America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings

Capa
MIT Press, 2004 - 371 páginas

An exploration of the dialogue that emerged after 1776 between different visions of what it meant to use new technologies to transform the land.

After 1776, the former American colonies began to reimagine themselves as a unified, self-created community. Technologies had an important role in the resulting national narratives, and a few technologies assumed particular prominence. Among these were the axe, the mill, the canal, the railroad, and the irrigation dam. In this book David Nye explores the stories that clustered around these technologies. In doing so, he rediscovers an American story of origins, with America conceived as a second creation built in harmony with God's first creation.

While mainstream Americans constructed technological foundation stories to explain their place in the New World, however, marginalized groups told other stories of destruction and loss. Native Americans protested the loss of their forests, fishermen resisted the construction of dams, and early environmentalists feared the exhaustionof resources. A water mill could be viewed as the kernel of a new community or as a new way to exploit labor. If passengers comprehended railways as part of a larger narrative about American expansion and progress, many farmers attacked railroad land grants. To explore these contradictions, Nye devotes alternating chapters to narratives of second creation and to narratives of those who rejected it.Nye draws on popular literature, speeches, advertisements, paintings, and many other media to create a history of American foundation stories. He shows how these stories were revised periodically, as social and economic conditions changed, without ever erasing the earlier stories entirely. The image of the isolated frontier family carving a homestead out of the wilderness with an axe persists to this day, alongside later images and narratives. In the book's conclusion, Nye considers the relation between these earlier stories and such later American developments as the conservation movement, narratives of environmental recovery, and the idealization of wilderness.

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Conteúdo

Narrating the Assimilation of Nature
9
Surveying the Ground
21
Axe Clearing Cabin
43
The Nurturing Forest
71
The Mill or Natural Power
91
Pollution and Class Conflict
117
Let Us Conquer Space
147
The Route of Superior Desolation
175
Conquered Rivers Are Better Servants than Wild Clouds
205
Water Monopoly Federal Irrigation and Factories in the Field
233
Progress or Entropy?
261
Second Creation Conservation and Wilderness
283
Notes
303
Bibliography
345
Index
365
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Sobre o autor (2004)

David E. Nye, who was knighted by the Danish Queen in 2013, is Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute and the History of Science and Technology program at the University of Minnesota and Professor of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. His eight other books published by the MIT Press include nbsp;Electrifying America and When the Lights Went Out: A History of American Blackouts. His awards include the Leonardo da Vinci Medal (2005).

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