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

By David E. Nye

After 1776, the previous American colonies started to reimagine themselves as a unified, self-created group. applied sciences had a huge 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 ebook 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 production in-built concord with God's first production. whereas mainstream americans developed technological starting place tales to give an explanation for their position within the New international, even though, marginalized teams advised 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 will be considered because the kernel of a brand new neighborhood or as a brand new approach to make the most exertions. If passengers comprehended railways as a part of a bigger narrative approximately American enlargement and development, many farmers attacked railroad land gives you. To discover those contradictions, Nye devotes alternating chapters to narratives of moment construction and to narratives of these who rejected it. Nye attracts on renowned literature, speeches, ads, work, and lots of different media to create a background of yank beginning tales. He exhibits how those tales have been revised periodically, as social and fiscal stipulations replaced, with out ever erasing the sooner tales fullyyt. a twin of the remoted frontier relatives carving a dwelling house out of the desert 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 past tales and such later American advancements because the conservation circulation, narratives of environmental restoration, and the idealization of barren region.

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An irrigation project made an entire region habitable. The sequence of foundation narratives transferred every increase in technological power onto an enlarged urban scale, culminating in the imaginative projection of a world metropolis, a central point from which radiated lines of power and influence: rivers, canals, and railroads. This fantasy, though realized in part in Chicago and Denver, usually proved chimerical. Such narrative assertions culminated in the projections of what irrigation could do in the arid West, where mastery of technology was expected to transform a desert into a vast and fertile garden supporting a huge population.

43 A strategy is a “calculation of power relationships that becomes possible as soon as a subject with will and power (a business, an army, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated. ” The goal is “to distinguish its own place . . ”44 Foundation narratives were written by the powerful as a part of the strategy of using new technologies to lay claim to the new space delimited by the grid. The foundation narrative, as expressed in Webster’s 1836 speech or in Emerson’s essay “Farming,” asserts that greater access to technology will empower every individual and democratize wealth by increasing the geographical extent of the market and increasing the average family’s income.

Similarly, whole towns were laid out by permission of state legislatures. Wyandotte, on the banks of the Kansas River, is an example. ” How had such a place come into existence? “In founding a city, a few speculators become [in]corporated, by special act of the legislature, as a town company. ”18 Few speculators were willing to work on such a small scale, though; typically, speculators paid others to pretend to be honest homesteaders, to lay claim to the adjoining lots, and to later sell them to the town incorporators.

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