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The Railway and Modernity

Time, Space, and the Machine Ensemble

Matthew Beaumont and Michael Freeman

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.
Contents: Matthew Beaumont/Michael Freeman: Preface – Matthew Beaumont/Michael Freeman: Introduction: Tracks to Modernity – Ana Parejo Vadillo/John Plunkett: The Railway Passenger; or, The Training of the Eye – Patrick Keiller: Phantom Rides: The Railway and Early Film – Michael Freeman: Time and Space under Modernism: The Railway in D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers – Andrew Thacker: Uncompleted Life: The Modernist Underground – Matthew Beaumont: Railway Mania: The Compartment as the Scene of a Crime – Laura Marcus: Psychoanalytic Training: Freud and the Railways – Adrian Gregory: To the Jerusalem Express: Wartime Commuters and Anti-Semitism – Wojciech Tomasik: The Auschwitz Terminus: Driverless Trains in Zola and Borowski – William Kidd: Sites of Memory, Sites of Modernity: French Railways in the Twentieth Century – Ian Carter: The Little World Where You Don’t Live: Railway Modelling.