Recollecting La Technique : industrial heritage sites and the rhetoric of technology

Adamczyk, Christopher Lee
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Other Contributors
Haskins, Ekaterina V., 1969-
Deery, June
Zappen, James Philip
Esrock, Ellen J.
Winner, Langdon
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Communication and rhetoric
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Industrial heritage sites are locations that exemplify both public memory and the rhetoric of technology. In this dissertation, I interpret three examples of industrial heritage sites to identify and characterize their common rhetorical features. Using Lowell National Historical Park, I identify how industrial heritage sites root their rhetoric in the technological sublime. Using the National Museum of Industrial History, I describe how industrial heritage sites invite their guests to orient toward workers’ experiences using textual, visual, and experiential displays. Finally, using Thomas Edison National Historical Park, I identify how industrial heritage sites situate sublime technology and guests-as-workers within a technocratic, national scene. With these three features considered, I then argue that industrial heritage sites, and thus the rhetoric of technology they invoke, can be understood as manifestations of what Jacques Ellul terms la technique. I conclude by suggesting an alternative way to recollect the technological past that draws upon virtue ethics.
August 2019
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Dept. of Communication and Media
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
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