READING QUESTIONSMarvin, Carolyn. 1988. When Old Technologies Were New.
Chapter 3: "Locating the Body in Electrical Space and Time"
- The sub-title of this chapter is "competing authorities." Who are the competing authorities? (Hint: they are related to groups identified in earlier chapters)
- Why does Marvin focus on the body?
- What do you think she means when she states that the body is at the juncture of nature and culture?
- What are the views of electrical experts vs. lay people about nature and electricity, according to Marvin?
- Find examples of expression of people's hopes and fears about electrical utopias in Marvin's cites from the primary literature
- What are the various ways religious authorities addressed electricity's potential, according to Marvin?
- What social codes or values (for example, about gender) can you detect in the sections "the Electrically Transformed Body" and "Special Powers of the Body and the Body Inscribed"?
- Marvin argues that electricity as a theme was used to frame pre-existing concerns about fate, and to exploit pre-existing public fascinations with "freaks," fantastic entertainments, etc. Find examples.
- What kinds of man-machine comparisons does Marvin find in the primary literature? What hopes and fears might these comparisons express?
- What hopes and fears were expressed about electricity's use in war or for executions?
- Critique Marvin's arguments in this chapter.