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Historical Perspectives on Technology, Culture, and Society

You may purchase any of the following booklets in the series at the American Historical Association Store section on SHOT: Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture.

Booklets Currently in Print

Technology and Society in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds
by Tracey E. Rihll

This booklet provides an overview of the rapidly developing field of ancient Greek and Roman technology. It focuses on key technological achievements of the ancients in culturally critical domains and outlines recent work on those achievements, considering not only what we know but how we think we know it. It also concentrates on technologies that were well developed and economically significant. It includes chapters on the mechanisms of ancient economic productivity; the production, preservation, and distribution of food; the collection and distribution of water; public and private building construction; textiles; and mining and metallurgy. It is fully illustrated with color illustrations and contains a bibliographic essay. It is suitable for undergraduates, but also scholars in other fields who desire a sophisticated overview of the topic.

Tracey E. Rihllis a Reader in Ancient History at Swansea University, Wales, UK. She has studied, taught and written about a broad spectrum of ancient science and technology, as well as ancient slavery. Her books include Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Greek Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Her analysis of the most advanced mechanical technology in widespread production and use in antiquity, The Catapult, was published by Westholme in 2007. Her chapter, “Mechanics and Pneumatics” will appear in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Science and Medicine, edited by Paul Keyser and John Scarborough.

ISBN 978-0-87229-201-7 - 2013 - 92 pages
$10.50 SHOT/AHA members - $15 non-members
 

Technology and Communications in American History
by Gregory J. Downey

Downey BookletThis 104-page booklet explores the history of communication technology in the United States from the colonial period to the present, including print culture, wired networks, broadcast communication, and the digital convergence of communication in cyberspace.  Each new round of communication technology is situated within four overlapping historical themes: national integration, industrial urbanization, mass consumption, and global economic restructuring.  Drawing upon both well-known and more recent scholarly work—from the historiography of technology, communication studies, information studies, and human geography—Greg Downey pays close attention not only to the state and the market as sources of technological innovation, but also to the audience and the laborer as key actors in technological adoption.  Fully illustrated and with a comprehensive bibliography, this booklet is suitable for both students and faculty seeking an accessible but analytical introduction to the history of American communication technology.

Gregory J. Downey is a professor at the University of Wisconin-Madison, where he is also the director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Downey received his B.S. and M.S. in computer science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, an M.A. in liberal studies from Northwestern University, and a joint Ph.D. in history of technology and human geography from Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Closed Captioning: Subtitling, Stenography, and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) and Telegraph Messenger Boys: Labor, Technology, and Geography, 1850-1950 (Routledge, 2002).

ISBN 978-0-87229-170-6 - 2011 - 104 pages.
$10.50 SHOT/AHA members - $15 non-members


Transportation Technology and Imperialism in the Ottoman Empire, 1800-1923
by Peter Mentzel

Mentzel Cover - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis booklet treats transportation technologies in the Ottoman Empire between ca. 1800 and 1923. Focusing especially on steamships and railroads, it provides an introduction to the complex issues of imperialism and its relationship to technological development. It discusses the mixture of old and new technologies in the empire during the entire period. It treats the views and activities of three different groups--the Ottomans, European nations, and capitalist investors. Topics discussed include transportation technology and Ottoman security, as well as issues concerning industrialization and technology transfer. It contains an extensive bibliographic essay.

Peter Mentzel is associate professor of history at Utah State University. He has published extensively on the nineteenth and early twentieth century social and political history of the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire, and was guest editor of a special issue of Nationalities Papers on Muslim minorities in the Balkans (vol. 28, no. 1, March 2000). His most recent publications focus on the societal ramifications of the transfer of railroad technology into the Ottoman Empire. His grants have included a Fulbright Research Fellowship to Turkey (1998-99) and a grant from the American Research Institute in Turkey (1999).

ISBN 0-87229-146-4 - 2006 - 101 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members


Technology and Utopia
by Howard P. Segal

Segal Cover - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONSegal examines the historical connection between technology and utopia, and shows how this connection is not just a contemporary western concept, but one that stretches back several centuries to Thomas More and also extends to several non-Western societies, including China and India. Segal illuminates how technology has been critical to the transformation of the conceptualization of utopia from "nowhere" to "somewhere" and, thanks to various high-tech developments, to the immediate future. This booklet also examines various expressions of utopia: prophecies, oratory, published works, political movements, world's fairs, actual communities, and now cyberspace and "virtual" communities. Hardly an uncritical defender of utopia in any form, Segal nevertheless contends that utopia still serves positive purposes.

Howard P. Segal is Professor of History at the University of Maine, where he has taught since 1986. From 1996 to 2005 he was Bird Term Professor of History. He has been director of the Technology and Society Project since 1988. Segal received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. His books include Technological Utopianism in American Culture (1985; 2d ed. 2005); Future Imperfect: The Mixed Blessings of Technology in America (1994); Recasting the Machine Age: Henry Ford's Village Industries (2005); and, with Alan Marcus, Technology in America: A Brief History (1989; 2d ed. 1999). His articles and essays have appeared both in academic journals and in more general publications like the New York Times, the New Republic, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the American Scholar, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is a regular reviewer of books about technology for Nature.

ISBN 0-87229-147-2 - 2006 - 128 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members


Technology and Society in the Medieval Centuries: Byzantium, Islam, and the West, 500-1300
by Pamela O. Long

Long's Byzantium and the West - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis 144-page booklet provides an introduction to technology, society, and culture between the years 500 and 1300. It focuses on three contiguous and partially overlapping geopolitical and cultural regions—the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic States, and that part of Europe historians call "the West"—whose dominant geographic feature was the Mediterranean Sea. The first three chapters present an overview of Byzantium, Islam, and the west, addressing such topics agriculture, craft industries, and building construction. Chapters four, five and six are topical, treating interrelationships among the three areas involving warfare and military technology; transportation, travel, and commerce; and the technologies of communication. A concluding chapter addresses the value of cross-cultural comparisons and interdisciplinary perspectives, and the booklet concludes with notes and a bibliographic essay. There are 53 illustrations.

Pamela O. Long is an independent historian who has published extensively on medieval and late-medieval/Renaissance cultural history, the history of science, and the history of technology. Her book, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance (2001) was awarded the Morris D. Forkosch Prize by the Journal of the History of Ideas.

ISBN 0-87229-132-4 - 2003 - 142 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members


Technology, Transport, and Travel in American History
by Robert C. Post

This booklet provides a concise history of transport and travel from the 15th century to the 21st, showing how change and innovation have been contingent on ambient social and cultural currents, and quite often on the outcome of contests over political power. It also illuminates a paradox: how frequently technological novelty is decoupled from any sound calculus of financial gain or public necessity. Canals and railways were constructed with only vague hopes that they could ever be profitable; autos and airplanes were invented with no clear sense of how people would construct their social reality. The analysis concludes with a suggestion that the absence of any inevitable link with rational motivation is what makes the history of technology such an instructive discipline. This 107-page booklet includes 30 illustrations, annotated endnotes, and a 12-page bibliography.

Robert C. Post is former curator of transportation at the Smithsonian Institution. He was editor of Technology and Culture from 1981 through 1995 and president of the Society for the History of Technology in 1997-98. He is the editor of Every Four Years: The American Presidency (rev. ed. 1984) as well as author or editor of several books on the relationship of technology and culture, including Physics, Patents, and Politics (1976), The Tancook Whalers (1986), In Context: History and the History of Technology (with Stephen H. Cutcliffe, 1989), Street Railways and the Growth of Los Angeles (1990), Yankee Enterprise (with Otto Mayr, rev. ed. 1995), and High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing (rev. ed. 2001).

ISBN 0-87229-131-6 - 2003 - 107 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members
 

Technology Transfer and East Asian Economic Transformation
by Rudi Volti

Volti Cover - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis booklet addresses the extraordinarily high level of economic dynamism in four countries of Southeast Asia. Japan was the first nation outside Europe and North America to industrialize, and many of its achievements have been duplicated by South Korea, Taiwan, and China. In their pursuit of economic modernity, these countries actively sought, modified, and applied technologies that were obtained from abroad. Here is a narrative and analysis of technology transfer to East Asia, taking note of key institutional actors, both private and public, as well as the distinctive historical circumstances that shaped the acquisition and assimilation of foreign technologies. It concludes with a discussion of the complex nature of the "East Asian Model" of foreign technology acquisition and use, as well as an annotated bibliography to aid readers interested in doing further research.

Rudi Volti is professor of sociology at Pitzer College and a founding member of the Science, Technology, and Society program of the Claremont Colleges. He also serves on the editorial board of Technology and Culture. His major publications include Technology, Politics, and Society in China (1982), Society and Technological Change (first published in 1995 and now in its fourth revised edition), The Engineer in History (1993), and The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Society (1999).

ISBN 0-87229-127-8 - 2002 - 66 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members


Technology and Society in Ming China (1368-1644)
by Francesca Bray

Cover of Bray booklet - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis booklet describes the technologies of Ming China as they developed and were shaped by Ming social and cultural values. It treats paper, printing and the circulation of knowledge, transportation, farming, textile production, and domestic architecture, devoting particular attention to issues of gender, class, and political culture. This 89-page booklet includes 45 illustrations, a bibliography, and an essay on the scholarly literature. It provides is a superb introduction not only to Ming Chinese technology but also to Ming Chinese history in general.

Francesca Bray is professor of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is also the author of Volume 6 of Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China, on agriculture, as well as The Rice Economies: Technology and Development in Asian Societies (University of California Press, 1994) and Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 1997), which was awarded SHOT's Dexter Prize in 1999.

ISBN 0-87229-119-7 - 2000 - 89 pages.
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members


The Military-Industrial Complex
by Alex Roland

Roland Cover - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis booklet analyzes a set of relationships central to American history in the latter 20th century, which entered popular discourse in a phrase used by Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address of 1961--the military-industrial complex. The phrase attracted little attention at the time, but achieved great political salience during the Vietnam war. Here, the analysis begins with an overview of U.S. industry and the military between World War I and the 1990s and then focuses on five transformations: civil-military relations, relations between industry and the state, among government agencies, between scientific-technical communities and the state, and between technology and society. A concluding bibliographic essay addresses the salient literature and identifies areas of controversy among historians.

Alex Roland is professor of history at Duke University, where he teaches military history and the history of technology. He is a past secretary and past president of the Society for the History of Technology. His books include Underwater Warfare in the Age of Sail (1978), Model Research: The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (1985), Strategic Computing: DARPA and the Quest for Machine Intelligence (with Philip Shiman, 2002), and, with Richard Preston and Sidney Wise, Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society (5th ed., 1991).

ISBN 0-87229-124-3- 2001 - 64 pages
$10.50 SHOT/AHA members - $15 non-members


Technology, Society, and Culture in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe, 1300-1600
by Pamela O. Long

Long's Late Medieval and Renaissance - CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATIONThis booklet treats both traditional and innovative technologies, the topics including agriculture and food production, the wool textile industry, painting and sculpture, architecture and building construction, mining, metallurgy, timekeeping, and printing. One key theme involves the relationship of labor, gender, and the status of craft work, another addresses issues of invention and the value of novelty. This 77-page booklet, which includes 17 illustrations and a nine-page bibliography of both primary and secondary sources, provides an excellent introduction to the material and technological bases of Renaissance culture.

ISBN 0-87229-120-0 - 2000 - 76 pages
$8.40 SHOT/AHA members - $12 non-members

 

 

 

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