Jim Tillma in the electrical engineering laboratory, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. (Photo courtesy of John Vachon. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, [reproduction number: LC-USW3- 003058-D].)
The subject of this course is the historical process by which the meaning of "technology" has been constructed. Although the word itself is traceable to the ancient Greek root teckhne (meaning art), it did not enter the English language until the 17th century, and did not acquire its current meaning until after World War I. The aim of the course, then, is to explore various sectors of industrializing 19th and 20th century Western society and culture with a view to explaining and assessing the emergence of technology as a pivotal word (and concept) in contemporary (especially Anglo-American) thought and expression.