The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American by Carolyn de la PenaThe Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American by Carolyn de la Pena

The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American

byCarolyn de la Pena

Paperback | April 1, 2005

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Between the years 1850 and 1950, Americans became the leading energy consumers on the planet, expending tremendous physical resources on energy exploration, mental resources on energy exploitation, and monetary resources on energy acquisition. A unique combination of pseudoscientific theories of health and the public’s rudimentary understanding of energy created an age in which sources of industrial power seemed capable of curing the physical limitations and ill health that plagued Victorian bodies. Licensed and “quack” physicians alike promoted machines, electricity, and radium as invigorating cures, veritable “fountains of youth” that would infuse the body with energy and push out disease and death.

The Body Electric is the first book to place changing ideas about fitness and gender in dialogue with the popular culture of technology. Whether through wearing electric belts, drinking radium water, or lifting mechanized weights, many Americans came to believe that by embracing the nation's rapid march to industrialization, electrification, and “radiomania,” their bodies would emerge fully powered. Only by uncovering this belief’s passions and products, Thomas de la Peña argues, can we fully understand our culture’s twentieth-century energy enthusiasm.

Title:The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern AmericanFormat:PaperbackDimensions:347 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.84 inPublished:April 1, 2005Publisher:NYU PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:081471983X

ISBN - 13:9780814719831

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Not only provides a richly detailed and suprising account of long-forgotten artifacts, but also fleshes out the longer history of some still-familiar attitudes toward health and vitality.”
-Journal of Social History

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