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"Tools and the man" : Samuel Smiles, lives of the engineers, and the machine in Victorian literature

Author: Courtney Salvey; Stephen Prickett; Baylor University. Department of English.
Publisher: Waco, Tex. : Baylor University, 2009.
Dissertation: M.A. Baylor University 2009
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
While Victorian responses to the machine varied greatly, a distinct literary strain emerged with Carlyle and ran through Ruskin and Dickens which understood the machine as a threat to human agency. In their fear, they focused on machinery itself as sublime or horrible. Samuel Smiles' series of engineering biographies, entitled Lives of the Engineers, argues against this position by highlighting the engineer, the  Read more...
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Details

Named Person: Samuel Smiles; Samuel Smiles
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Courtney Salvey; Stephen Prickett; Baylor University. Department of English.
OCLC Number: 694791350
Description: v, 87 pages 197892 bytes 565182 bytes
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.; System requirements: PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Responsibility: by Courtney Salvey.

Abstract:

While Victorian responses to the machine varied greatly, a distinct literary strain emerged with Carlyle and ran through Ruskin and Dickens which understood the machine as a threat to human agency. In their fear, they focused on machinery itself as sublime or horrible. Samuel Smiles' series of engineering biographies, entitled Lives of the Engineers, argues against this position by highlighting the engineer, the human element, who creates and controls the machine. Interacting with concepts from Carlyle, Smiles' biographies show engineers as Captains of Industry, dynamic men who shape themselves and lead others. By combining a narrative of these self-made men with a narrative of technological history, Smiles shows that machines are products of human agency rather than threats to it. This presentation facilitates the inclusion of engineers in subsequent works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Kingsley, George Eliot, and Rudyard Kipling.

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