By David E. Nye

ISBN-10: 0262140810

ISBN-13: 9780262140812

After 1776, the previous American colonies started to reimagine themselves as a unified, self-created group. applied sciences had an enormous function within the ensuing nationwide narratives, and some applied sciences assumed specific prominence. between those have been the awl, the mill, the canal, the railroad, and the irrigation dam. during this publication David Nye explores the tales that clustered round those applied sciences. In doing so, he rediscovers an American tale of origins, with the USA conceived as a moment construction inbuilt concord with God's first production. whereas mainstream american citizens built technological origin tales to give an explanation for their position within the New global, even though, marginalized teams informed different tales of destruction and loss. local americans protested the lack of their forests, fishermen resisted the development of dams, and early environmentalists feared the exhaustion of assets. A water mill should be considered because the kernel of a brand new neighborhood or as a brand new method to take advantage of exertions. If passengers comprehended railways as a part of a bigger narrative approximately American enlargement and growth, many farmers attacked railroad land can provide. To discover those contradictions, Nye devotes alternating chapters to narratives of moment construction and to narratives of these who rejected it. Nye attracts on well known literature, speeches, ads, work, and plenty of different media to create a background of yankee starting place tales. He exhibits how those tales have been revised periodically, as social and fiscal stipulations replaced, with no ever erasing the sooner tales completely. just like the remoted frontier kinfolk carving a home out of the desolate tract with an awl persists to at the present time, along later pictures and narratives. within the book's end, Nye considers the relation among those previous tales and such later American advancements because the conservation move, narratives of environmental restoration, and the idealization of desert.

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Extra resources for America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings

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It describes what seem to be actual recent events, and it is widely accepted by most members of the middle class as a factual representation. A speech by Daniel Webster illustrates this evolutionary view embedded within the foundation narrative. One of the most famous orators of the nineteenth century, Webster was invited to speak to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in Boston in 1836, three years after Etzler’s 18 Chapter 1 book appeared. Rather than paint fanciful visions of what might be done using the force of the sun and wind, Webster based his argument on the known productive power of the steam engine.

Technological mastery of movement accelerated the exploitation of land. Jefferson had expected the settlement of the continent to take centuries. The expansion of population and the development of resources might have paralleled the slow movement of Spain (and later Mexico) into the American Southwest; it was the Anglo-American mastery of movement that hurried expansion. Daniel Webster and many other politicians of his era were keenly aware that the mastery of space was directly related to technology, both in the obvious sense that steamboats and railroads moved more rapidly than horses and sailing ships and in the less obvious sense that increased 36 Chapter 2 productive capacity transformed land values.

Americans soon came to see their singular geographical system as not at all arbitrary. This leads Fisher to an extremely important observation: “Such a Cartesian space provides for no observers, for no oppositional positions. ”15 The grid was a totalizing system that made it difficult to write a counter-narrative and even more difficult to win an audience for one. The new abstract sense of space surprised European visitors. In 1836 the French traveler Michael Chevalier commented: “No one can look at a map of the United States without being struck by the appearance of straight lines constituting the frontiers of most of the States; this method of bounding a territory by meridians and parallels of latitude is absurd since it requires an infinite number of geodesic operations, which have not been executed, and cannot be so for a long time.

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America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings by David E. Nye

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