Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America

Cecelia Tichi, Author University of North Carolina Press $39.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-8078-1715-5
In this lengthy study, Boston Univ. English professor Tichi (author of New World, New Earth examines technology's impact on language, art and popular culture from the 1890s to the 1920s. During this period the professional engineer became a national role model, idealized in now-forgotten best sellers by Rex Beach, Harold Bell Wright and John Fox. But more fundamentally, Tichi contends, American literature was transformed when new technological values represented by the efficiency movement of Frederick Taylor and the ""aesthetic of the rapid-transit experience'' were adopted in various ways by American writers such as Hemingway, Dos Passos and William Carlos Williams. (Indeed, the book concludes with an analysis of Williams's ``poetics of kinetics and efficiency'' and his belief that a poem is a ``machine made of words.'') The 119 illustrations include advertisements, photos, paintings, diagrams, postcards and sculpture and are closely linked with the author's illuminating text. (March)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-8078-4167-9
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