The Machine Awakens: The Science and Politics of the Fantastic Automaton

J. Tresch
2011 French Historical Studies  
Automatons of the eighteenth century testified to a faith in the rationality of a clockwork universe. During the early nineteenth century, in the Restoration and July Monarchy, images of self-moving machines were newly associated with the physics of ethers, conversions, steam and electricity, as well as with animal magnetism; they also frequently had magical and religious associations. This new generation of fantastic automatons can be seen as a reaction to the demiurgic power of mechanized
more » ... stry and as a focal point for rethinking the past while facing an uncertain future. Images of animated matter and self-moving machines reveal the close partnership between romanticism and mechanization. Beyond highlighting the connections among the sciences of fluids, conversions and transmutations, fantastic literature, the emergence of mass entertainment, and early socialism, images of fantastic automatons reveal the supernatural undercurrents of the early industrial age.
doi:10.1215/00161071-2010-024 fatcat:2swdeao73zaozmr3lqusisqydu