Technology and the Culture of Modernity in Britain and Germany, 1890-1945

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März 2005



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.


1. Introduction; 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; 9. Conclusion; Bibliography.


Bernhard Rieger is Assistant Professor of History at the International University Bremen. He has coedited Meanings of Modernity: Britain from the Late-Victorian Era to World War II (2001) with Martin J. Daunton.


Review of the hardback: 'Why not start this review with praise? Bernhard Rieger's book ... not only addresses a central theme in debates about modernity in the nineteenth and twentieth century; it is also fluently written and offers original insights for cultural historians and scholars interested in political questions. Finally, the author does not shy away from the big questions including National Socialism's modernity as well as the relationship between Nazi crimes and modern technology and science.' H-Soz-u-Kult Review of the hardback: ' ...a far-reaching and penetrating account of how the 'culture of modernity' forever remade Britain and Germany ... well written and clearly argued.' Paul Betts, Journal of Modern History Review of the hardback: ' ... an original and welcome contribution ... [Rieger] exercises his knack for inspired choices. Rieger's unique contribution is to identify the dynamic link between pessimism and optimism in all visions of modernity ... an impressive engagement of scholarship.' Michael Thad Allen, Business History Review Review of the hardback: ' ... a conceptually ambitious and substantively wide-ranging study ... a fascinating, important, and provocative work that should be read by all those interested in how societies understand and promote technology.' Mary Nolan, Central European History From the hardback review: ' ... very convincing ... this bright book is also well written and tells a plethora of thrilling stories.' Ulrich Wengenroth, Historische Zeitschrift
EAN: 9780521845281
ISBN: 0521845289
Untertitel: 'New Studies in European Histor'. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: März 2005
Seitenanzahl: 319 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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