The Railway and Modernity

Time, Space, and the Machine Ensemble

by Matthew Beaumont (Volume editor) Michael Freeman (Volume editor)
©2008 Edited Collection 280 Pages


Most research and writing on railway history has been undertaken in a way that disconnects it from the wider cultural milieu. Authors have been very effective at constructing specialist histories of transport, but have failed to register the railway’s central importance in the representation and understanding of modernity. This book brings together contributions from a range of established scholars in a variety of disciplines with the central purpose of exploring the railway less as a transport technology than as a key signifier of capitalist modernity. It examines the complex social relations in which the railway became historically embedded, identifying it as a central problematic in the cultural experience of modernity. It avoids the limitations of both the close-sighted empiricism typical of many transport historians and the long-sighted generalizations of cultural commentators who view the railway merely as a shorthand for the concept of progress over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book draws on a diverse range of materials, including literary and historical forms of representation. It is also informed by a creative application of various critical theories.


ISBN (Softcover)
Modernität Eisenbahn Sozialgeschichte Aufsatzsammlung Empiricism Transport Technology Cultural Modernity Transport history Capitalism
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007. 262 pp., 20 ill.

Biographical notes

Matthew Beaumont (Volume editor) Michael Freeman (Volume editor)

The Editors: Matthew Beaumont is Lecturer in English at University College London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd.: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England 1870-1900 (2005), and the editor of Adventures in Realism (2007). Michael Freeman is Supernumerary Fellow in Human Geography at Mansfield College, University of Oxford. His principal publications include: Victorians and the Prehistoric: Tracks to a Lost World (2004); and Railways and the Victorian Imagination (1999), winner of the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year 1999 and short-listed for the Sally Hacker prize at Johns Hopkins, 2001.


Title: The Railway and Modernity