Geography: Discuss speed planes trains and automobiles in relation to spaces and subjects of modernity

GG3017: The Spaces and Subjects of Modernity
Denis Linehan

The Railway kills space, so we are left with time. If only we had enough money to kill time too! It is now possible to go to Orleans in four and half hours or in as many hours to Rouen. Wait until the lines to Belgium and Germany are built and connected to the railways there! It is as if the mountains and forests of all countries moved to Paris. I can smell the sent of German linden trees, and North Sea is roaring in front of my door.

Heinrich Heine, quoted in Spiekermann and Wegener,1995

Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man. As opposed to the motorscylist, the runner is always present in his body, forever required to think about his blisters, his exhaustion; when he runs he feels his weight, his age, more conscious that ever of himself and his time in life. This all changes when man delegates the facutly of speed to a machine: from then on, this own body is outside the process, and he gives over to a speed that is noncorporeal, non-material, pure speed, speed itself, ecstasy speed.
Milan Kudera, Slowness, 1996:4

Today we live affirmatively in our automotive moments, moments in which the driver looms as king, as sovereign, as tyrant
Joao do Rio, 1911


The history of modern societies can be read as a history of their acceleration. First addressing contemporary experiences of speed, the lectures goes on to explore the impacts of the developments of technologies of speed, such as the railway and the bicycle, in the 19th and early 20th century. We will consider how speed altered ideas about place, landscape nation and identity. The manner in which these developments can inform our understanding about the relationships between technology, space and identity is explored throughout.

Learning Outcomes On the basis of this lecture an associated reading you should expect to be able to:

outline the key developments of technologies of speed such as the railway, automobile, bicycle
indicate how the sensation and participation in speed led to a different experience of landscape and place and distance.
relate the production of new technologies to new sense of the city and what it was to be modern:
begin to theorise a relationship between new technologies, new spaces and new identities
Stephen Daniels 1993 “J.M.W.Turner and the Circulation of the Statein his Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United State. Polity, Cambridge. [for a discussion on Turners Rain, Steam and Speed] *
Clifton Hood, Changing Persceptions of Public Space on the New York Rapid Transit System Journal of Urban History, 22.3, 308-331
John Jervis, 1998 Machines and Skyscrapers: Technology as Experience, Hope and Fear, in his Exploring the Modern, Blackwell, London*
Stephen Kern 1986Speedin his The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918, Harvard University Press *
K Spiekermann, and M Wegener,1995 The shrinking continent: new time space maps of EuropeEnvironment and Planning B, Planning and Design, 653-773 *
John Piquet, 1925 Modern Industry Annihilates Space Industrial Management Vol LXX No. 1, 6-11
Pamela Walker Laird 1996 The Car without a single weakness”: early automobile advertising, Technology and Culture 37, 4 *
David E. Nye, 1994 The Railroad: The Dynamic Sublime in American Technological Sublime MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.*
Leo Marx, 1964 The Machine in the Garden: technololgy and the pastoral ideal in America London : Oxford U.P., 1964.
William H. Rollins, 1995 Whose Landscape? Technology, Fascism and Environmentalism on the National Socialist Autobahn, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 85, 3, pp 494-520
Jeffrey Snapp 1999 Crash: speed as an engine of individualisation Modernism/Modernity 6 ,1
Wolfgang Schivelbusch, 1986 Railway Space and Railway Time in his The Railway Journey: the industrialisation of time and space in the 19th century, University of California Press *
Jeremy Stein, 1996, Annihilating Space and Time: The Modernisation of Fire-Fighting in 19th Cornwall, Ontorio, Urban History Review
Ben Singer 1995 Modernity, Hyperstimulus, and the Rise of Popular Sensationalism in Leo Charney Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life*
Nigel Thrift 1996 Inhuman Geographies: Landscapes of Speed, Light and Powerin his Spatial Formations Sage London [on first read skip first section]*