in The Romantic Machine

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226812205
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226812229 | DOI:

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The French Revolution of 1848 was triggered in part by injustices and miseries associated with the emerging industrial regime. Yet reformers such as Victor Considerant, Louis Blanc, Flora Tristan, Claire Démar, Jeanne Deroin, Etienne Cabet, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Karl Marx did not call for an end to machines, or a return to a pure and unmodified nature. Instead, they argued for continued inventiveness in the administration of machines, a rethinking of their use and ownership, and careful forethought about their consequences for society and its milieu. In advocating mechanical romanticism, these reformers proposed a vision of the human as a creature dependent on its ecological milieu, with the power to change its surroundings by means of technology. This chapter examines the impact of the 1848 Revolution and the Second Republic's paradoxical presentations of labor and machinery, including the Festival of Industry of 1849, Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera The Prophet, and the pendulum experiment of Léon Foucault.

Keywords: French Revolution; machines; labor; Festival of Industry; Giacomo Meyerbeer; opera; Prophet; pendulum experiment; Léon Foucault; romanticism

Chapter.  9199 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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