This special issue on the role of technology in American culture aims, as have the previous American Quarterly special issues, to examine the intersection of the field of American studies with other fields, in this case technology studies, communication, and the history of technology. The United States has been, throughout its history, a society deeply invested in a belief in technology. As a nation defined by an uncritical embrace of technologies and technological systems, from the conviction that American technological superiority and know-how will reign globally to the often myopic belief in technological solutions as a form of problem solving, the United States is a remarkably techno-centric nation. This special issue presents a diverse array of essays that exemplify the vibrant work being produced on questions of technology by scholars working in and around American studies employing a range of interdisciplinary approaches. These essays demonstrate the crucial importance of historical and cultural analyses of the complex relationship of technologies to individual identities, social relations, and national imaginings.
This issue has been edited with great skill and thoughtfulness by guest editors Carolyn de la Peña and Siva Vaidhyanathan, who have brought together a truly exemplary group of scholars and essays to make clear how significant these questions of technology in and of American culture can be. We are grateful to the American Quarterly managing board for shepherding this issue through the review process, and in particular to board members Sarah Banet-Weiser and Josh Kun, and associate editors Katherine Kinney, Barry Shank, and Raúl Villa, who all read and commented extensively on manuscripts at various stages of their development. This kind of labor is necessary to the realization of such a focused work, and the authors of these essays join us in thanking these scholars for this strenuous and careful reading. We would also like to thank the additional members of the managing board, Eric Avila, Mary Dudziak, Judith Jackson Fossett, Greg Hise, Laura Pulido, John Carlos Rowe, Shelly Streeby, Helena Wall, and Henry Yu, and the American Quarterly advisory board, who provided helpful advice for this project. The American Quarterly staff has worked tirelessly to bring this issue to realization, in particular AQ managing editor Michelle Commander, who impressively kept it on track. AQ editorial assistant Cynthia Willis and AQ interns Jill Somers and Joe Barrett [End Page v] provided invaluable support as well. Stacey Lynn, our copy editor, patiently helped bring the issue to a final, clean state, and Bill Longhauser designed the wonderful cover.
We are grateful to the Program in American Studies and Ethnicity and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California, and the Department of Culture and Communication and Dean Mary Brabeck of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, whose support helped this project come to fruition.