Women and the Machine: Representations from the Spinning Wheel to the Electronic Age

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9780801873133: Women and the Machine: Representations from the Spinning Wheel to the Electronic Age
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From sexist jokes about women drivers to such empowering icons as Amelia Earhart and Rosie the Riveter, representations of the relationship between women and modern technology in popular culture have been both demeaning and celebratory. Depictions of women as timid and fearful creatures baffled by machinery have alternated with images of them as being fully capable of technological mastery and control -- and of lending sex appeal to machines as products.

In Women and the Machine, historian Julie Wosk maps the contradictory ways in which women's interactions with -- and understanding of -- machinery has been defined in Western popular culture since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Drawing on both visual and literary sources, Wosk illuminates popular gender stereotypes that have burdened women throughout modern history while underscoring their advances in what was long considered the domain of men. Illustrated with more than 150 images, Women and the Machine reveals women rejoicing in their new liberties and technical skill even as they confront society's ambivalence about these developments, along with male fantasies and fears.

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Women and the Machine Julie Wosk maps the contradictory ways in which women's interactions with - and understanding of - machinery has been defined in Western popular culture since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The book draws on visual and literary sources to illuminate popular gender stereotypes. Full description

Review:

Engaging and entertaining... Using illustrations, cartoons and photographs from the past three centuries, Wosk delineates shifts in social acceptance of women's relationship to technology. Typewriters, spinning wheels, sewing machines and household appliances are all given their due, as are bicycles, cars and airplanes. But there are intriguing asides, too, like the technology of women's corsets, bustles and hoops... With the sleek detail of a gift book, Wosk's history may look deceptively slight, but her work is complex, comprehensive and highly readable.

(Publishers Weekly)

Women and the Machine presents a wealth of information on the intersections of women with technology and machinery. Covering a wide period of time, her work presents a fascinating array of information... Wosk's assessment of the challenges faced by women in the supposedly masculine world of machines is a highly readable and excellent source book on the issues, bringing together a great deal of research that plays among the disciplines of art history, visual culture, gender studies, and sociology... A satisfying and fascinating read.

(Kirsty Robertson H-Women, H-Net Reviews)

Art historian Wosk analyzes the overt and covert messages in depictions of women and machines in an array of fiction and, more impressively, in some 150 visual images... Examining a wide range of advertisements, fashion stories, cover illustrations, and photographs, Wosk contrasts images of women as fearful of machinery and scientific technology in general with others showing mastery and control, thereby illustrating gender stereotyping and the hesitant advances women have made in a supposedly male domain.

(Booklist)

A fascinating and informative blending of social history and art.

(Library Book Watch)

A delightful book framed by captivating illustrations that support and enrich the text... Wosk demonstrates that cultural attitudes about women and their mechanical abilities are complex, contradictory, and conflicted in the past and present.

(Choice)

Reveals deep cultural tensions over the role of women in a technologically complex society... Wosk's elegant visual history reads as a prelude to the computer age.

(Technology and Learning)

This is a serious book written by a serious art historian, with 150 images from high and low European and American art, from advertising, photography and satirical reviews.

(Julie Wosk Woman's Art Journal 1900-01-00)

Julie Wosk's fine detective work, uncovering powerful images of historical representations of technology, makes a significant contribution to the literature on technology and society.

(Madelyn Holmes IEEE Technology and Society Magazine)

Two things about this book stand out. The first is that when you can personalize an academic volume, it's a good book. The second is that Women and the Machine offers a profoundly feminist point of view that isn't buried in academic jargon... Full on target.

(Larry Zimmerman Key Reporter)

The book... make[s] a strong case for women's fascinating and changing relationship with the machine, from the spinning wheel to the sewing machine to the microwave oven.

(Home News and Times (Yonkers, NY) 1900-01-00)

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Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001
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