Body Electric How Strange Machines Built the Modern American

ISBN-10: 081471983X

ISBN-13: 9780814719831

Edition: 2003

Authors: Carolyn de la Pe�a

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View the Table of Contents .nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;Read the Preface . "Covers its subject well, provides useful context, and makes lively reading for anyone interested in the history of technology, the social context of electricity and radioactive materials, or the history of alernative medicine."Technology and Culture "Not only provides a richly detailed and suprising account of long-forgotten artifacts, but also fleshes out the longer history of some still-familiar attitudes toward health and vitality." Journal of Social History "De la Pena's fascinating study melds social history with material culture and the history of science and technology to explain Americans' enthusiastic embrace of modern mechanization and emergent industrial culture." CHOICE "In this engaging and well-written study Carolyn Thomas de la Pena offers a detailed cultural history of the medical-technological interface in the period 1850-1940, and in so doing tells us a great deal about how the body and its relation to modernity were conceived." American Historical Review "Exellent. Carolyn de la Pena's superbly researched project examines how Americans in the period between 1870 and 1935 sought to supplement their physical energy through engagement with a variety of popular health technologies, including muscle-building machines: electrical invigorators, such as belts and collars: and radioactive elixirs." American Quarterly "It's an irresistible account of fads and fascinating foibles, including electric belts and radioactive tonics." Christian Science Monitor "Transforming archival research into sparkling prose,The Body Electricexplains how Americans learned to use machines to seek health, sexual rejuvenation, and physical transformation. This innovative book is both an entertaining history of fads and foibles and a groundbreaking cultural critique of the continuing obsession with achieving physical perfection." David E. Nye, author ofElectrifying America and America as Second Creation "The Body Electricis the so-far missing puzzle piece in our nineteenth-twentieth century knowledge of the social history of the human body and technology—a richly illustrated study showing two centuries of technologizing the human body against fears of weakness, enervation, sexual depletion." Cecelia Tichi, author ofShifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America Between the years 1850 and 1950, Americans became the leading energy consumers on the planet, expending tremendous physical resources on energy exploration, mental resources on energy exploitation, and monetary resources on energy acquisition. A unique combination of pseudoscientific theories of health and the public's rudimentary understanding of energy created an age in which sources of industrial power seemed capable of curing the physical limitations and ill health that plagued Victorian bodies. Licensed and "quack" physicians alike promoted machines, electricity, and radium as invigorating cures, veritable "fountains of youth" that would infuse the body with energy and push out disease and death. The Body Electricis the first book to place changing ideas about fitness and gender in dialogue with the popular culture of technology. Whether through wearing electric belts, drinking radium water, or lifting mechanized weights, many Americans came to believe that by embracing the nation's rapid march to industrialization, electrification, and "radiomania," their bodies would emerge fully powered. Only by uncovering this belief's passions and
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Book details

List price: $27.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 4/1/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 329
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

The machine-built body
Measuring mechanical strength
Exploring electric limits
Powering the intimate body
"Radiomania" limits the energy dream
Conclusion : the end of an era?
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