In this Book

summary

Between the years 1850 and 1950, Americans became the leading energy consumers on the planet, expending tremendous physical resources on energy exploration, mental resources on energy exploitation, and monetary resources on energy acquisition. A unique combination of pseudoscientific theories of health and the public’s rudimentary understanding of energy created an age in which sources of industrial power seemed capable of curing the physical limitations and ill health that plagued Victorian bodies. Licensed and “quack” physicians alike promoted machines, electricity, and radium as invigorating cures, veritable “fountains of youth” that would infuse the body with energy and push out disease and death.

The Body Electric is the first book to place changing ideas about fitness and gender in dialogue with the popular culture of technology. Whether through wearing electric belts, drinking radium water, or lifting mechanized weights, many Americans came to believe that by embracing the nation's rapid march to industrialization, electrification, and “radiomania,” their bodies would emerge fully powered. Only by uncovering this belief’s passions and products, Thomas de la Peña argues, can we fully understand our culture’s twentieth-century energy enthusiasm.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. p. v
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. 1. The Machine-Built Body
  2. pp. 15-49
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  1. 2. Measuring Mechanical Strength
  2. pp. 50-88
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  1. 3. Exploring Electric Limits
  2. pp. 89-136
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  1. 4. Powering the Intimate Body
  2. pp. 137-170
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  1. 5. “Radiomania” Limits the Energy Dream
  2. pp. 171-212
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  1. Conclusion: The End of an Era?
  2. pp. 213-221
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 223-291
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 293-319
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 321-328
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  1. About the Author
  2. p. 329
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814785492
Related ISBN
9780814719534
MARC Record
OCLC
56196886
Pages
347
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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