Linda Simon

Dark Light : Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-ray

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The modern world imagines that the invention of electricity was greeted with great enthusiasm. But in 1879 Americans reacted to the advent of electrification with suspicion and fear. Forty years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, only 20 percent of American families had wired their homes. Meanwhile, electrotherapy emerged as a popular medical treatment for everything from depression to digestive problems. Why did Americans welcome electricity into their bodies even as they kept it from their homes? And what does their reaction to technological innovation then have to teach us about our reaction to it today? <p></p>In Dark Light, Linda Simon offers the first cultural history that delves into those questions, using newspapers, novels, and other primary sources. Tracing fifty years of technological transformation, from Morse's invention of the telegraph to Roentgen's discovery of X-rays, she has created a revealing portrait of an anxious age. <p></p>

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The modern world imagines that the invention of electricity was greeted with great enthusiasm. But in 1879 Americans reacted to the advent of electrification with suspicion and fear. Forty years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, only 20 percent of American families had wired their homes. Meanwhile, electrotherapy emerged as a popular medical treatment for everything from depression to digestive problems. Why did Americans welcome electricity into their bodies even as they kept it from their homes? And what does their reaction to technological innovation then have to teach us about our reaction to it today?

In Dark Light, Linda Simon offers the first cultural history that delves into those questions, using newspapers, novels, and other primary sources. Tracing fifty years of technological transformation, from Morse's invention of the telegraph to Roentgen's discovery of X-rays, she has created a revealing portrait of an anxious age.

The modern world imagines that the invention of electricity was greeted with great enthusiasm. But in 1879 Americans reacted to the advent of electrification with suspicion and fear. Forty years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, only 20 percent of American families had wired their homes. Meanwhile, electrotherapy emerged as a popular medical treatment for everything from depression to digestive problems. Why did Americans welcome electricity into their bodies even as they kept it from their homes? And what does their reaction to technological innovation then have to teach us about our reaction to it today?

In Dark Light, Linda Simon offers the first cultural history that delves into those questions, using newspapers, novels, and other primary sources. Tracing fifty years of technological transformation, from Morse's invention of the telegraph to Roentgen's discovery of X-rays, she has created a revealing portrait of an anxious age.

Specifications

Publisher
HMH Books
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
ENG
Number of Pages
368
Author
Linda Simon
ISBN-13
9780156032445
Publication Date
April, 2005
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.00 x 5.31 x 1.50 Inches
ISBN-10
0156032449

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Simons look at scient...

Simon's look at scientific inventions (mainly electricity-based inventions) during the latter half of the nineteenth century reads more like War of the Worlds than like a standard history. She delves into how ordinary Americans dealt with the possibilities of transmitting words and sounds, of lighting their nights, of seeing their own bones. The fears presented by papers of the day used slippery slope arguments to augment both anxiety and sales, but their questions still addressed many of the philosophical debates at the time about the soul and God. Simon's analysis is fairly good, but tends to ramble at certain points.


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