Abstract

Edward Bellamy's influential utopian novel Looking Backward (1888) dramatizes the epistemological impact of an increasingly media-saturated urban environment on turn-of-the-century American culture and identity. Bellamy's fanciful adaptation of the telephone receives particularly careful analysis in this essay. Deprived of its transmitting function, this denatured instrument both disrupts Bellamy's utopian project and, more subtly, registers the effect of mass media technologies on the construction and coherence of subjectivity. Lowenstein ultimately argues that Bellamy's novel rehearses the displacement of an epistemology rooted in the search for ontological certainty by what Anthony Giddens calls an epistemology of social reflexivity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2154-9648
Print ISSN
1045-991X
Pages
pp. 143-166
Launched on MUSE
2011-04-17
Open Access
No
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