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Technics and Civilization first presented its compelling history of the machine and critical study of its effects on civilization in 1934—before television, the personal computer, and the Internet even appeared on our periphery. Drawing upon art, science, philosophy, and the history of culture, Lewis Mumford explained the origin of the machine age and traced its social results, asserting that the development of modern technology had its roots in the Middle Ages rather than the Industrial Revolution. Mumford sagely argued that it was the moral, economic, and political choices we made, not the machines that we used, that determined our then industrially driven economy. Equal parts powerful history and polemic criticism, Technics and Civilization was the first comprehensive attempt in English to portray the development of the machine age over the last thousand years—and to predict the pull the technological still holds over us today. “The questions posed in the first paragraph of Technics and Civilization still deserve our attention, nearly three quarters of a century after they were written.”—Journal of Technology and Culture
A brilliant survey of our response to changing technology, which sets out the prerequisites for a rational use of our discoveries and inventions as a means of human liberation rather than enslavement.
Despite the breakneck pace of both technological advance and environmental collapse, Robert Ostertag explores how we ourselves are changing as fast as the world around us--from how we make music, to how we have sex, to what we do to survive, and who we imagine ourselves to be. And though the environmental crisis terrifies and technology overwhelms, Ostertag finds enough creativity, compassion, and humor in our evolving behavior to keep us laughing and inspired as the world we are building overtakes the world we found. Ostertag fuses his travels as a touring musician with his journalist's eye for detail and the long view of a historian. Our best writers have struggled with how to address the catastrophes of our time without looking away. Ostertag succeeds where others have failed, with the moral acuity of Susan Sontag, the technological savvy of Lewis Mumford, and the biting humor of Jonathan Swift.
Lewis Mumford was the author of more than thirty influential books, many of which expounded his views on the perils of urban sprawl and a society obsessed with technics. This text provides the essence of Mumford's views on the distinct yet interpenetrating roles of technology and the arts in modern culture.
This anthology of hard-to-find primary documents provides a solid overview of the foundations of American media studies. Focusing on mass communication and society and how this research fits into larger patterns of social thought, this valuable collection features key texts covering the media studies traditions of the Chicago school, the effects tradition, the critical theory of the Frankfurt school, and mass society theory. Where possible, articles are reproduced in their entirety to preserve the historical flavor and texture of the original works. Topics include popular theater, yellow journalism, cinema, books, public relations, political and military propaganda, advertising, opinion polling, photography, the avant-garde, popular magazines, comics, the urban press, radio drama, soap opera, popular music, and television drama and news. This text is ideal for upper-level courses in mass communication and media theory, media and society, mass communication effects, and mass media history.
This book is the most comprehensive empirical study to date of the social and technical aspects of milling during the ancient and medieval periods.Drawing on the latest archaeological evidence and historical studies, the book examines the chronological development and technical details of handmills, beast mills, watermills and windmills from the first millennium BCE to c. 1500. It discusses the many and varied uses to which mills were turned in the civilisations of Rome, China, Islam and Europe, and the many types of mill that existed.The book also includes comparative regional studies of the social and economic significance of milling, and tackles several important historiographical issues, such as whether technological stagnation was a characteristic of late Antiquity, whether there was an industrial revolution" in the European Middle Ages based on waterpower, and how contemporary studies in the social shaping of technology can shed light on the study of pre-modern technology."
An examination of the pervasive anxiety about and fixation with time seen in 1960s art.
In this classic study of the relationship between technology and culture, Miles Orvell demonstrates that the roots of contemporary popular culture reach back to the Victorian era, when mechanical replications of familiar objects reigned supreme and realism dominated artistic representation. Reacting against this genteel culture of imitation, a number of artists and intellectuals at the turn of the century were inspired by the machine to create more authentic works of art that were themselves "real things." The resulting tension between a culture of imitation and a culture of authenticity, argues Orvell, has become a defining category in our culture. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition includes a new preface by the author, looking back on the late twentieth century and assessing tensions between imitation and authenticity in the context of our digital age. Considering material culture, photography, and literature, the book touches on influential figures such as writers Walt Whitman, Henry James, John Dos Passos, and James Agee; photographers Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, and Margaret Bourke-White; and architect-designers Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Considering texts by Henry James, Gertrude Stein, James Weldon Johnson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Agee, and William Carlos Williams, alongside film, painting, music, and popular culture, Mark Goble explores the development of American modernism as it was shaped by its response to technology and an attempt to change how literature itself could communicate. Goble's original readings reinterpret the aesthetics of modernism in the early twentieth century, when new modes of communication made the experience of technology an occasion for profound experimentation and reflection. He follows the assimilation of such "old" media technologies as the telegraph, telephone, and phonograph and their role in inspiring fantasies of connection, which informed a commitment to the materiality of artistic mediums. Describing how relationships made possible by technology became more powerfully experienced with technology, Goble explores a modernist fetish for media that shows no signs of abating. The "mediated life" puts technology into communication with a series of shifts in how Americans conceive the mechanics and meanings of their connections to one another, and therefore to the world and to their own modernity.
The interrelations of science and technology as an object of study seem to have drawn the attention of a number of disciplines: the history of both science and technology, sociology, economics and economic history, and even the philosophy of science. The question that comes to mind is whether the phenomenon itself is new or if advances in the disciplines involved account for this novel interest, or, in fact, if both are intercon nected. When the editors set out to plan this volume, their more or less explicit conviction was that the relationship of science and technology did reveal a new configuration and that the disciplines concerned with 1tS analysis failed at least in part to deal with the change because of conceptual and methodological preconceptions. To say this does not imply a verdict on the insufficiency of one and the superiority of any other one disciplinary approach. Rather, the situation is much more complex. In economics, for example, the interest in the relationship between science and technology is deeply influenced by the theoretical problem of accounting for the factors of economic growth. The primary concern is with technology and the problem is whether the market induces technological advances or whether they induce new demands that explain the subsequent diffusion of new technologies. Science is generally considered to be an exogenous factor not directly subject to market forces and, therefore, appears to be of no interest.
"In contextualizing the theory of cybernetics, Mindell gives engineering back forgotten parts of its history, and shows how important historical circumstances are to technological change." -- "Networker"
Praised for its ability to kill insects effectively and cheaply and reviled as an ecological hazard, DDT continues to engender passion across the political spectrum as one of the world's most controversial chemical pesticides. In DDT and the American Century, David Kinkela chronicles the use of DDT around the world from 1941 to the present with a particular focus on the United States, which has played a critical role in encouraging the global use of the pesticide. Kinkela's study offers a unique approach to understanding both this contentious chemical and modern environmentalism in an international context.
In Landscape of the Mind, John F. Hoffecker explores the origin and growth of the human mind, drawing on archaeology, history, and the fossil record. He suggests that, as an indirect result of bipedal locomotion, early humans developed a feedback relationship among their hands, brains, and tools that evolved into the capacity to externalize thoughts in the form of shaped stone objects. When anatomically modern humans evolved a parallel capacity to externalize thoughts as symbolic language, individual brains within social groups became integrated into a "neocortical Internet," or super-brain, giving birth to the mind. Noting that archaeological traces of symbolism coincide with evidence of the ability to generate novel technology, Hoffecker contends that human creativity, as well as higher order consciousness, is a product of the superbrain. He equates the subsequent growth of the mind with human history, which began in Africa more than 50,000 years ago. As anatomically modern humans spread across the globe, adapting to a variety of climates and habitats, they redesigned themselves technologically and created alternative realities through tools, language, and art. Hoffecker connects the rise of civilization to a hierarchical reorganization of the super-brain, triggered by explosive population growth. Subsequent human history reflects to varying degrees the suppression of the mind's creative powers by the rigid hierarchies of nationstates and empires, constraining the further accumulation of knowledge. The modern world emerged after 1200 from the fragments of the Roman Empire, whose collapse had eliminated a central authority that could thwart innovation. Hoffecker concludes with speculation about the possibility of artificial intelligence and the consequences of a mind liberated from its organic antecedents to exist in an independent, nonbiological form.
In two centuries of non-stop hydraulic tinkering the Rhine River has been modified more than any other large river in the world. This title examines the environmental history of the Rhine from its headwaters in the Swiss Alps to its delta in the Netherlands. It looks at the great river engineering projects of the 19th and 20th centuries, and assesses the impact of the coal, steel and chemical industries on its banks.
Empire of Vines traces the development of wine culture as grape growing expanded from New York to the Midwest before gaining ascendancy in California—a progression that illustrates viticulture's centrality to the nineteenth-century American projects of national expansion and the formation of a national culture.
The rise of corporate capitalism was a cultural revolution as well as an economic event, according to James Livingston. That revolution resides, he argues, in the fundamental reconstruction of selfhood, or subjectivity, that attends the advent of an 'age of surplus' under corporate auspices. From this standpoint, consumer culture represents a transition to a society in which identities as well as incomes are not necessarily derived from the possession of productive labor or property. From the same standpoint, pragmatism and literary naturalism become ways of accommodating the new forms of solidarity and subjectivity enabled by the emergence of corporate capitalism. So conceived, they become ways of articulating alternatives to modern, possessive individualism. Livingston argues accordingly that the flight from pragmatism led by Lewis Mumford was an attempt to refurbish a romantic version of modern, possessive individualism. This attempt still shapes our reading of pragmatism, Livingston claims, and will continue to do so until we understand that William James was not merely a well-meaning middleman between Charles Peirce and John Dewey and that James's pragmatism was both a working model of postmodern subjectivity and a novel critique of capitalism.
A provocative and authoritative guide to understanding the questions surrounding technology disasters that occur, with a blueprint for the prevention of future disasters, this book looks at over three dozen case studies and the lessons learned from them.
Digital media are having an enormous impact on the world. From the seemingly mundane, like playing World of Warcraft, to posting a message on Twitter or Facebook, to the operation of financial markets, to transformations in science and the economy - digital media continue to revolutionize how people live their daily life. This book challenges how we understand our relationship with our digital machines, and shows how they open up a new capacity for action in the world. A capacity for action that we should no longer simply think of in terms of movement and force, but also in terms of flow and viscosity. A capacity for action that produces a politics of fluids, and finds its expression not only in new forms of social control, but also in a renewed ability for people to engage with the world and each other.

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