Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future

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9780262031158: Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future

Imagining Tomorrow takes a lively and informative look at the future as envisioned in the American past. Covering the period from the 1880s to the present, it examines the expectations that various groups of Americans held regarding the technology of tomorrow. The book contributes to our understanding of twentieth-century culture, technology and what may be called the history of the future.

Six of the ten essays in the book probe the future imagined for particular inventions, such as the electric light, x-ray, radio, and computer. Two others explore the way architects and designers repackaged the traditional house and city into exciting and evocative images of the future. The remaining two essays focus respectively on the novels of 19th-century technological utopians and 1930s world's fairs, both popular forums for speculating about technology and the future.

Joseph J. Corn, a Lecturer in the Program on Values, Technology, Science, and Society at Stanford University, served as general editor for the volume and provides an overall historical perspective in an introduction and epilogue. The other contributors are Paul Ceruzzi, Steven L. Del Sesto, Susan J. Douglas, Brian Horrigan, Folke T. Kihlstedt, Nancy Knight, Carolyn Marvin, Jeffrey L. Meikle, Howard P. Segal, and Carol Willis.

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From Library Journal:

The editor, who teaches in Stanford University's Program on Values, Technology, Science, and Society, provides a thoughtful introduction and epilogue to this collection of essays. Six articles cover various inventions, such as the radio, the computer, and plastics; four review aspects of urban culture, including world's fairs of the 1930s and trends in urban architecture. Although the essay on computers covers 1935 to 1985, most of the contributors focus on the late 19th/early 20th century. Each chapter is buttressed by extensive citations and includes well-chosen illustrations. Corn's editorial notes are especially useful in assessing innovations against changing times, as in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and in terms of commercialization. A fascinating and valuable examination of technological futurism. Roger E. Bilstein, Univ. of HoustonClear Lake
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review:

" Imagining Tomorrow makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how deepseated American faith in technology has helped shape our past and alerts us to the dangers of continuing this blind embrace in the future." Peter J. Kuznick , Science



"The value of sheer good fun in scholarship ought never to be discounted: Imagining Tomorrow is chockful of ladies in electrified tea-gowns and time capsules crammed with amazing trivia.... The facts astound and amuse and delight. They also suggest that even post-nuclear skeptics can learn to love technology again," Karal Ann Marling , University of Minnesota

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Published by The MIT Press (1986)
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Published by The MIT Press
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