The Railway and Modernity
Time, Space, and the Machine Ensemble
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.