Twisted Rails, Sunken Ships: The Rhetoric of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports, 1833-1879

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9780415784795: Twisted Rails, Sunken Ships: The Rhetoric of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports, 1833-1879

Contemporary disaster investigation reports into the Shuttle, Three Mile Island, or the World Trade Centre did not happen by chance, but were the result of an evolution of the discourse communities involved with investigating technological accidents. The relationships of private companies, coroners, outside experts, and government investigators all had to be developed and experimented with before a genre of investigation reports could exist. This book is the story of the evolution of these investigation discourse communities in published reports written between 1833 and 1879. Using the reports generated by seven different accidents on railroads and steamboats between 1833 and 1876, it is possible to observe the changes in how these reports interacted and changed over the course of the nineteenth century: The Explosion of the Steamboat New England in the Connecticut River, 1833; The Explosion of the Locomotive Engine Richmond near Reading Pennsylvania, 1844; The Explosion of the Steam Boat Moselle in Cincinatti, 1838; The Camden and Amboy Railroad Collision in Burlington, New Jersey, 1855; The Gasconade Bridge Collapse on the Pacific Railroad in Missouri, 1855; The Eastern Railroad Collision in Revere, Massachusetts, 1871; The Ashtabula Railroad Bridge Collapse in Ohio, 1876

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About the Author:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Professor R. John Brockmann has been a member of the English Department, Concentration in Business and Technical Writing, University of Delaware, for 20 years. He received the Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching technical communication from the Society for Technical Communication in 2003. He was elected a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication in 1995, and received the "Joseph T. Rigo Award, 1986," from the Association of Computing Machinery, Special Interest Group for Documentation of Computers (ACM SIGDOC), for his "significant contributions to the knowledge and understanding of software technical writing." In 1983 he was co-recipient of the "Best Collection of Essays in Technical Communication" award from the National Council of Teachers of English, for his first book (also published by Baywood). His earlier books on the history of technical communication include Exploding Steamboats, Senate Debates and Technical Reports: The Convergence of Technology! , Politics and Rhetoric in the Steamboat Bill of 1838 (Baywood 2002) and From Millwrights to Shipwrights to the 21st Century: Historical Consideration of American Technical Communication (Hampton Press, 1998).


Anyone interested in how technical communicators deal with disaster will want to own this book. -- Jack Jobst, Michigan Technological University

This book is essential reading for cultural historians, lawyers, engineers, everyone interest in transportation and safety issues. -- —Mark Casson, Professor of Economics University of Reading, United Kingdom

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