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Title: The moods of modernity : Germany in the age of telegraphy, c.1830-c.1880
Author: Johnston, Jean-Michel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 5259
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the origins and impact of electrical telegraphy in Germany between 1830 and 1880, situating them within the context of long-term transformations in the theory and practice of communication. It uses the development of telegraphy as an analytical lens through which to explore the connections between actors at the heart of the socio-economic transformations taking place in Germany during the period. Both as an innovation and as a tool of communication, this thesis argues, the telegraph epitomised the simultaneously growing interdependence and differentiation between people and places which was a defining characteristic of modernity. By exploring the motivations and interactions of scientists, entrepreneurs, state officials, and ordinary users who engaged with the technology, this thesis highlights the diverse expectations which were placed upon telegraphy, and the many different directions in which its development was pulled. In doing so, it reveals the ties between the ‘modernising’ processes with which the technology has been associated. It challenges linear narratives of technological innovation which focus exclusively upon individual or state actors, emphasising the cooperation and collaboration across society which was necessary to produce the telegraph. It similarly questions triumphalist interpretations of the 'communications revolution' so often attributed to the nineteenth century, emphasising instead the tensions and divisions which it also generated. Revisiting the themes of industrialisation, capitalism, community and bourgeois class-formation in nineteenth-century Germany in this light, this thesis emphasises their intrinsic interdependence, and the inevitable mixture of hopes and anxieties, expectations and frustrations, which it produced.
Supervisor: Zimmer, Oliver Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Communication ; Germany ; Telegraph ; State-building ; Nineteenth century