And Consumption For All: The Science Fiction Pulps and the Rhetoric of Technology
Committee ChairRaval, Suresh
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation argues that in industrial society technology is not merely an immaterial, abstract set of machines but instead has a rhetoric all its own. This rhetoric of technology consists of myriad elements, ranging from cultural conversations about machines and the engineering principles from which they're derived to class relationships naturalized by industrial structures.In the United States, the rhetoric of technology focuses on individuals, creating cults of personality that embody an otherwise abstract entity. This dissertation asserts that these cults focus on specific components of the process of technological development, represented as inventors, engineers, and hackers.The bulk of the dissertation explores the creation and continuation of these cults in American popular culture. Specifically, it examines how these representations are used in the science fiction pulp magazines, published from 1926-1949. Each cult has a period of ascendancy followed by a lessened importance in the rhetoric of technology, and these ebbs and flows are thoroughly represented in the pulps.Each of these cults has its own chapter, with Chapter 1 focusing on the history and definition of the term 'rhetoric of technology' and Chapter 5 examining ways to teach the rhetoric of technology in the college classroom. Chapter 2 focuses on inventors; Chapter 3 examines engineers; and Chapter 4 traces the beginnings of hackers.