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Defective Mirror: Early American Reflections on Progress and Tradition in Europe

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Inger H. Dalsgaard - Lecturer

  • Department of English

In the 19th century Americans were steaming ahead, laying down railroad lines and putting up telegraph lines and record rates. They had every hope that their new nation could measure itself well against Europe. Their national self-identification with "the practical arts" was meant to result in industrial progress and technological superiority to put especially the English to shame.

This paper gives examples of how Americans (partly in defensive response to early European criticism of their country and manners, and partly as a developing a civil myth about their own superiority) tended to read the English as particularly backwards on the technological front but with an overdeveloped sense of decorum, even before there was a real basis for this perception.

Emneord: Railway technology, Travel literature
20 Feb 2008

Event (Conference)

Title<em>Transatlantic Perceptions</em>


  • Railway technology, Travel literature

ID: 11061746