Manufacturing utopia: American labor, industry, and invention 1880-1935
Romans, Bradley Paul
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This study examines modes of utopian desire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By locating rebellion and revolution in the bodies of popular and cultural texts, modes of production, labor relations, and speculative fictions, this study undertakes an analysis of the development of efficiency in a transitional American epoch. I argue that technocratic, utopian, and proletarian movements respond to the mechanical logic of industry in their textual impulses, and that, as Jean Pfaelzer notes, “rebellion is a part of the inner logic of the genre (of utopian fiction)” (14). These texts constitute a cohesive and coherent body of interlocking mechanisms for articulating social change. Through exegesis of imaginative, speculative, and futurist texts, this study posits that emancipatory rhetoric is reimagined at the turn of the century as a collectivist and populist utopian project.