Catalogue


America as second creation : technology and narratives of new beginnings /
David E. Nye.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2003.
description
x, 371 p. : ill.
ISBN
0262140810 (hc. : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2003.
isbn
0262140810 (hc. : alk. paper)
catalogue key
4844880
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-12-01:
Nye (American studies, Odense Univ., Denmark), the author of several acclaimed studies of technology, offers no surprises in this compelling synthesis that shows how particular technologies played key roles in narratives used by ensuing generations to imagine the US as a unified and self-created community forged in a raw continent. Paired chapters treat succeeding prominent themes. The first two chapters develop themes; the second two show how critics challenged the optimistic view of progress inherent in the theme. The initial section treats the assimilation of nature into a sense of national identity, and role of the public land rectangular grid survey system in fostering a sense of control. Subsequent chapters discuss the evolution of the American axe, clearing the forest, and the log cabin; water power to drive mills and create cities; canals and railroads; and irrigating the arid West. A final section shows how the competing ideologies of indefinite progress and of learning to live with limited resources contend to the present. Broadly researched and amply illustrated and documented with endnotes, this will become a standard reference alongside works by Leo Marx and Henry Nash Smith. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All academic readers. D. Steeples formerly, Mercer University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Pathbreaking, richly researched-one cannot read America as Second Creationwithout seeing our history, and our present-day problems, with fresh eyes. Nye brilliantly deconstructs the long standing American belief that technology, from the humble woodsman's axe and water-powered mill to the transcontinental railroads and gigantic irrigation projects, wrought a 'second creation' and improved on God's original handiwork." -Joseph J. Corn, Department of History, Stanford University
"The axe, the mill, the canal, and the railroad: from the grid to ecofeminism, David Nye's America as Second Creation offers a new, far-ranging, and detail-rich account of the changing technological foundation stories that have accompanied and helped shape US culture, and of the counternarratives that have challenged the dominant ideology." -Werner Sollors, Harvard University, author of Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture
"The axe, the mill, the canal, and the railroad: from the grid to ecofeminism, David Nye's America as Second Creationoffers a new, far-ranging, and detail-rich account of the changing technological foundation stories that have accompanied and helped shape US culture, and of the counternarratives that have challenged the dominant ideology." -Werner Sollors, Harvard University, author of Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture
"Well imagined, meticulously researched, handsomely illustrated, and scrupulously fair." - Simon Ings , NewScientist
"Well imagined, meticulously researched, handsomely illustrated, and scrupulously fair." - Simon Ings, NewScientist
&"A superb analysis of cultural icons too often mentioned or cited but almost never analyzed.&" &-John Stilgoe, Harvard University
"Mr. Nye [is] a remarkable chronicler of how technological change has impressed itself on the American character." - E. Rothstein , The New York Times Website
"Mr. Nye [is] a remarkable chronicler of how technological change has impressed itself on the American character." - E. Rothstein, The New York Times Website
"Pathbreaking, richly researched-one cannot read America as Second Creation without seeing our history, and our present-day problems, with fresh eyes. Nye brilliantly deconstructs the long standing American belief that technology, from the humble woodsman's axe and water-powered mill to the transcontinental railroads and gigantic irrigation projects, wrought a 'second creation' and improved on God's original handiwork." -Joseph J. Corn, Department of History, Stanford University
"America as Second Creation is a thought-provoking, readable and vital addition to the literature of American studies." - Richard Haw , American Studies
"America as Second Creation is a thought-provoking, readable and vital addition to the literature of American studies." - Richard Haw, American Studies
"A superb analysis of cultural icons too often mentioned or cited but almost never analyzed." -John Stilgoe, Harvard University
"America as Second Creationbrilliantly reworks Leo Marx's Machine in the Garden thesis in the light of four decades of scholarship on technology, environment, and American culture. David Nye's dissection of America's foundation narratives-and their simultaneously elaborated counter-narratives-is masterly. Log cabin, mill, canal and railroad, irrigation, and river regulation: he shows how each technology has been mythologized to account for the triumph, or disaster, of American social and environmental making. Leo Marx's machine has been reassembled, his garden re-fertilized, their shared story re-energized." -Denis Cosgrove, Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles
" America as Second Creation brilliantly reworks Leo Marx's Machine in the Garden thesis in the light of four decades of scholarship on technology, environment, and American culture. David Nye's dissection of America's foundation narratives-and their simultaneously elaborated counter-narratives-is masterly. Log cabin, mill, canal and railroad, irrigation, and river regulation: he shows how each technology has been mythologized to account for the triumph, or disaster, of American social and environmental making. Leo Marx's machine has been reassembled, his garden re-fertilized, their shared story re-energized." -Denis Cosgrove, Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
After 1776, the former American colonies started to re-imagine themselves as a unified, self-created community. Technologies had an important role in the resulting national narratives, and David Nye here explores the stories that clustered around these technologies.
Main Description
After 1776, the former American colonies began to reimagine themselves as a unified, self-created community. Technologies had an important role in the resulting national narratives, and a few technologies assumed particular prominence. Among these were the axe, the mill, the canal, the railroad, and the irrigation dam. In this book David Nye explores the stories that clustered around these technologies. In doing so, he rediscovers an American story of origins, with America conceived as a second creation built in harmony with God's first creation. While mainstream Americans constructed technological foundation stories to explain their place in the New World, however, marginalized groups told other stories of destruction and loss. Native Americans protested the loss of their forests, fishermen resisted the construction of dams, and early environmentalists feared the exhaustionof resources. A water mill could be viewed as the kernel of a new community or as a new way to exploit labor. If passengers comprehended railways as part of a larger narrative about American expansion and progress, many farmers attacked railroad land grants. To explore these contradictions, Nye devotes alternating chapters to narratives of second creation and to narratives of those who rejected it. Nye draws on popular literature, speeches, advertisements, paintings, and many other media to create a history of American foundation stories. He shows how these stories were revised periodically, as social and economic conditions changed, without ever erasing the earlier stories entirely. The image of the isolated frontier family carving a homestead out of the wilderness with an axe persists to this day, alongside later images and narratives. In the book's conclusion, Nye considers the relation between these earlier stories and such later American developments as the conservation movement, narratives of environmental recovery, and the idealization of wilderness.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: In the American Beginningp. 1
Preconditions
Narrating the Assimilation of Naturep. 9
Surveying the Groundp. 21
First Narrative: The Axe
Axe, Clearing, Cabinp. 43
The Nurturing Forestp. 71
Second Narrative: The Mill
The Mill, or "Natural Power"p. 91
Pollution and Class Conflictp. 117
Third Narrative: The Canal and the Railroad
"Let Us Conquer Space"p. 147
"The Route of Superior Desolation"p. 175
Fourth Narrative: Irrigation
"Conquered Rivers Are Better Servants than Wild Clouds"p. 205
Water Monopoly: Federal Irrigation and Factories in the Fieldp. 233
Metanarrative: Synthesis and Rebuttal
Progress, or Entropy?p. 261
Conclusion: Second Creation, Conservation, and Wildernessp. 283
Notesp. 303
Bibliographyp. 345
Indexp. 365
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem