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The Body Electric


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Preface Introduction1 The Machine-Built Body2 Measuring Mechanical Strength 3 Exploring Electric Limits 4 Powering the Intimate Body 5 "Radiomania" Limits the Energy Dream Conclusion: The End of an Era? NotesBibliographyIndex About the Author

About the Author

Carolyn Thomas de la Pena is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of California at Davis.


"Covers its subject well, provides useful context, and makes lively reading for anyone interested in the history of technology, the social context of electricity and radioactive materials, or the history of alernative medicine."--Technology and Culture "Not only provides a richly detailed and suprising account of long-forgotten artifacts, but also fleshes out the longer history of some still-familiar attitudes toward health and vitality." --Journal of Social History "De la Pena's fascinating study melds social history with material culture and the history of science and technology to explain Americans' enthusiastic embrace of modern mechanization and emergent industrial culture." --CHOICE "In this engaging and well-written study Carolyn Thomas de la Pena offers a detailed cultural history of the medical-technological interface in the period 1850-1940, and in so doing tells us a great deal about how the body and its relation to modernity were conceived." --American Historical Review "Exellent. Carolyn de la Pena's superbly researched project examines how Americans in the period between 1870 and 1935 sought to supplement their physical energy through engagement with a variety of popular health technologies, including muscle-building machines: electrical invigorators, such as belts and collars: and radioactive elixirs." --American Quarterly "It's an irresistible account of fads and fascinating foibles, including electric belts and radioactive tonics." --Christian Science Monitor "Transforming archival research into sparkling prose, The Body Electric explains how Americans learned to use machines to seek health, sexual rejuvenation, and physical transformation. This innovative book is both an entertaining history of fads and foibles and a groundbreaking cultural critique of the continuing obsession with achieving physical perfection." --David E. Nye, author of Electrifying America and America as Second Creation "The Body Electric is the so-far missing puzzle piece in our nineteenth-twentieth century knowledge of the social history of the human body and technology--a richly illustrated study showing two centuries of technologizing the human body against fears of weakness, enervation, sexual depletion." --Cecelia Tichi, author of Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America

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