Engines of the Imagination
Renaissance Culture and the Rise of the Machine
By (author) Jonathan Sawday
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Engines of the Imagination by Jonathan Sawday
Book DescriptionAt what point did machines and technology begin to have an impact on the cultural consciousness and imagination of Europe? How was this reflected through the art and literature of the time? Was technology a sign of the fall of humanity from its original state of innocence or a sign of human progress and mastery over the natural world? In his characteristically lucid and captivating style, Jonathan Sawday investigates these questions and more by engaging with the poetry, philosophy, art, and engineering of the period to find the lost world of the machine in the pre-industrial culture of the European Renaissance. The aesthetic and intellectual dimension of these machines appealed to familiar figures such as Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Montaigne, and Leonardo da Vinci as well as to a host of lesser known writers and artists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This intellectual engagement with machines in the European Renaissance gave rise to new attitudes towards gender, work and labour, and even fostered the new sciences of artificial life and reason which would be pursued by figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, and Leibniz in the seventeenth century. Writers, philosophers and artists had mixed and often conflicting reactions to technology, reflecting a paradoxical attitude between modern progress and traditional values. Underpinning the enthusiastic creation of a machine-driven world, then, were stories of loss and catastrophe. These contradictory attitudes are part of the legacy of the European Renaissance, just as much as the plays of Shakespeare or the poetry of John Milton. And this historical legacy helps to explain many of our own attitudes towards the technology that surrounds us, sustains us, and sometimes perplexes us in the modern world.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780415350624
(234mm x 156mm x 23mm)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 29-Nov-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Jonathan Sawday
Literature and the English Civil War, Paperback (February 2010)
This book charts the relationship between literary texts and their historical context.
Engines of the Imagination, Hardback (November 2007)
Challenging the artificial divide between technological studies and cultural history, this title traces the story of the imaginative encounter with machines and machinery in the European Renaissance.
Renaissance Computer, Paperback (August 2000)
Some of today's foremost Renaissance scholars look afresh at the remarkable products of the first age of print and explore how these anticipated many of the conditions of the present digital age.
Body Emblazoned, Paperback (October 1996)» View all books by Jonathan Sawday
'A major event in the cultural history of the modern era ... beautifully written, rich in insights, and a pleasure to read. A most absorbing and illuminating work of scholarship.' - Roy Porter, The Wellcome Institute
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Author Biography - Jonathan Sawday
Jonathan Sawday is Professor of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He has taught at universities in Britain, Ireland, and the United States. As well as writing many articles and essays on Renaissance literature and culture, he is the author of the The Body Emblazoned (Routledge, 1995) and co-editor (with Tom Healy) of Literature and the English Civil War (1990), and (with Neil Rhodes) The Renaissance Computer (Routledge, 2000).
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