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Level 5

5AAH3015 Western Technology in Global History 1500 - 2000

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Anna Maerker (Sem 1) and Professor David Edgerton (Sem 2)
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
AvailabilityPlease see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Reassessment (2018/19 onwards subject to approval)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module offers a survey of the history of technology from the printing press to the 'technological societies' of the late twentieth century.  It provides students with an understanding of a number of key, interrelated themes in the history of technology, focusing on machines and practices developed in Europe and North America, and how they came to affect global history over a long period.  Students will examine the interrelation of political, economic social and cultural forces which influenced the history of Western technology and vice versa, developing an understanding of change through time.  They will draw on recent historiography as well as selected primary source material. No prior knowledge of engineering or science is required or assumed.

Provisional teaching plan

Semester 1

1. What is technology?
2. Printing and Paper Technologies
3. The Clockwork Universe and Other Machines
4. Technology and the State: Ships, Fortification, Gunpowder
5. The Industrial Revolution
6. Technology and Belief: Secular and Religious Automata
7. Knowledge and Control: The Encyclopédie
8. Standardisation
9. Technology and Imperialism
10. The Beginnings of Mass Culture: The "Second Printing Revolution"

Semester 2

11. What is 'Technology' II
12. Machines in the Global landscape of the 20th Century
13. Mass Production - from Detroit to Shenzen
14. Making War with Machines - from the Western Front to Vietnam
15. Gandhi, Nehru and the Machine
16. Meat
17. Efficiency and Modernity
18. Domestic Technologies
19. Communism and the Machine
20. Critics of the Technological Society

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

Pamela Long, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance, (Baltimore: John's Hopkins University Press, 2001)

Otto Mayr, Authority, Libery and Automatic Machinery in Early Modern Europe, (1986)

Thomas J. Misa, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology & Culture form the Renaissance to the Present, (Baltimore: John's Hopkins University Press, second edition 2011 [2014])

Ken Alder, Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763 - 1815, (Princeton, 1997, second edition, Chicago, 2010)

Daniel R Headrick, The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850 - 1940, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988)

Thoams P Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870 - 1970, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1989)

David Edgerton, The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900, (London: Profile, 2007)

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