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This book examines the obsession for new technology that swept through Britain and Germany between 1890 and 1945. Drawing on a wide range of popular contemporary writings and pictorial material, it explains how, despite frequently feeling overwhelmed by innovations, Germans and Britons nurtured a long-lasting fascination for aviation, glamorous passenger liners and film as they lived through profound social transformations and two vicious wars. Public discussions about these 'modern wonders' were torn between fears of novel risks and cultural decay on the one hand, and passionate support generated by nationalism and social fantasies on the other. While the investigation focuses on tensions between technophobia and euphoria, the book also examines the relationship between responses to technology and the differing political cultures in Britain and Germany before and after 1933. This innovative study will prove invaluable reading to anyone interested in comparative cultural history as well as the history of technology.Read more
- A groundbreaking contribution to the comparative cultural history of Britain and Germany
- Surveys the 'modern wonders' that fascinated contemporary society from aviation to passenger liners and cinema
- Draws on an unusual range of sources
Reviews & endorsements
"...Rieger's book is well written, well researched and well argued. It not only fills an important gap in research but by following a comparative approach also pushes the boundaries of historiography further."
-Anselm Heinrich, Department of History, Lancaster University, H-GermanSee more reviews
"...an original and welcome contribution. ...[an] impressive engagement of scholarship."
-Business History Review
"Drawing on an extremely wide range of popular contemporary writings and pictorial material, it not only offers interesting insights into the debates on three technologies, but also uses a sophisticated and stimulating comparative approach to the cultural appropriation of technology."
-Barbara Schmucki, Technology and Culture
"Bernhard Rieger's new book is a far-reaching and penetrating account of how the culture of modernity forever remade Britain and Germany in the years from the late nineteenth century through World War II. The fascination with machines, speed, and industrial power, he convincingly shows, not only became a dramatic dimension of Anglo-German military rivalry but also spurred the creation of new national identities fashioned for the industrial age...Technology and the Culture of Modernity is a well-written and cearly argued account of the cultureal shock of the new, successfully charting as it does the diverse ways in whic hBritain and Germany feared and fantasized about technology's promethean powers in the not so distant past."
-Paul Betts, University of Sussex
"Rieger's ambitious and useful book is a comparison of how technology was perceived in Great Britain and Germany from 1890-1945." -Troy Paddock, German Studies Review
"The analysis and presentation of this complex yet coherent tapestry offers a fresh approach that takes the social and cultural history of techonology to a higher level. This, to my mind, is the book's most important contribution." -Eda Kranakis, Historie sociale
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- Date Published: January 2009
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521093149
- length: 332 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- contains: 10 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
2. 'Modern Wonders': technological innovation and public ambivalence
3. Accidents: the physical risks of technology
4. Elusive illusions: the cultural and political properties of film
5. Pilots as popular heroes: risk, gender and the aeroplane
6. 'Floating palaces': passenger liners as objects of pleasure
7. Fantasy as social practice: the rise of amateur film
8. Technology and the nation in Britain and Germany
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