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Girdling the Globe, Networking the World - A Discourse Analysis of the Media Representation of Nineteenth-Century Transport and Communication Technologies in Victorian Britain, 1838 - 1871

Karagöl, Jessica

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Abstract

The nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of an unprecedented global transport and communication infrastructure in shape of steamships, railways, telegraph landlines and submarine cables and related engineering works, such as canals and railway tunnels. For various reasons, Great Britain could position itself at the centre of these new networks. Their ramifications on various spheres, such as global trade and the conduct of imperial policy, have received sustained scholarly attention. An in-depth analysis of the general public’s reactions to the burgeoning infrastructure and the technologies involved, however, has not been carried out. Providing a discourse analysis of the various technologies’ representation in Victorian print publications, this dissertation closes this gap. Focusing specifically on the newly established connections between Britain and India, on the one hand, and Britain and the United States, on the other, it investigates contemporaries’ attitudes, perceptions and expectations and shows that in many ways, Victorian approaches anticipated postmodern analyses. For this, specific events have been selected and were monitored in a variety of British newspapers, magazines and other relevant printed material of the time. In so doing, this dissertation reveals that Victorian approaches towards technology reached beyond simplistic technological determinist beliefs and that their understanding of changing spatiotemporal arrangements was more sophisticated than the oft-quoted phrase of the ‘annihilation of time and space’ suggests. Further, it reveals the social and cultural frameworks into which these transport and communication technologies were embedded and illustrates the role they were given in the context of the formation of collective identities and interstate rivalries.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Wenzlhuemer , Prof. Dr. Roland
Date of thesis defense: 3 July 2014
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2015 06:29
Date: 2015
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Dekanat der Philosophischen Fakultät
Subjects: 900 Geography and history
940 General history of Europe
Uncontrolled Keywords: Victorian Britain, Victorian Age, British Empire, Technologie, Telegrafie, Kommunikation, Globalgeschichte
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