Title: The Electric Dilemma: Electricity’s Role in Widening the Gulf Between the Modern and Non-Modern Worlds

Abstract: The development of electrical inventions during the second Industrial Revolution influenced cultural perceptions of the modern and non-modern worlds, albeit rather negatively. As electricity became increasingly embedded in cityscapes, it contributed to a type of spiritual and metaphysical belief that pervaded throughout the next couple of centuries. Many believed that the power of electricity was somewhat transcendental and that its effects were more than simply tangible. Most importantly, electricity became a growing source of social power among the bourgeoisie, who clearly lived in what was considered a “modern” society. Undoubtedly transformative, electricity widened the gulf between the modern and non-modern worlds by creating post-modern urban environments that promoted the image of the modern world and emphasized the disorder that was attributed to the non-modern. Over time, however, various literary and cinematic works have worked to correct these misguided perceptions and have even suggested that electricity culturally inhibits both the modern and non-modern worlds. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, for instance, have referred to various forms of electricity in a rather demeaning tone, thus implying that the promises electricity offers to modern world are misleading. Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, on the other hand, is an examination of the deleterious effects of electricity in an underdeveloped world.

Talking Points for Presentation: Electricity’s Influence on Cultural Perception (Culture and Technology), The Development of Electricity and its Remaking of Society (Remaking Society)

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One Response to “Presentation”

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