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‘Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart’: Mythologizing the Industrial Revolution

KATIGBAK, KATE,ALEXIS (2014) ‘Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart’: Mythologizing the Industrial Revolution. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis will explore the evolution of the narrative of the Industrial Revolution, from the association of the Prometheus myth with ideas of science and revolution in the late eighteenth century to the development of a myth of the Industrial Revolution during the nineteenth century. It will address works by Goethe, Mary Shelley, Thomas Carlyle, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels with an aim to explore how they participated in using and creating myths to understand the social and economic changes affected by industrialisation in Britain.

Chapter One will establish current problems within the historiography of the Industrial Revolution in order to introduce the concept of ‘mythistory’, before discussing Promethean narratives during the late eighteenth century, and the etymology of the term ‘Industrial Revolution’. Chapter Two will discuss Goethe’s Faust, and the ways in which Promethean ideas, as well as Goethe’s own worldview, transformed the old legend into a useful narrative with which to consider industrialisation. Chapter Three will explore the ways in which Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein undermined and questioned her contemporaries’ assumptions about the heroism of scientific endeavours. Together, these two chapters will establish the myths Marx and Carlyle used to engage directly with the Industrial Revolution.

Chapter Four will discuss the works of Thomas Carlyle, specifically his early essays and Past and Present. It will underscore Carlyle’s admiration for Goethe, and his ‘great man’ approach to history, before analysing his own mythmaking. Chapter Five will follow on by studying the mythmaking of Marx and Engels, particularly in their early works, ‘The Communist Manifesto’, and Capital, Vol. 1. Discussion will concern how these authors contrast ideologically with Carlyle while nevertheless sharing a mythic diagnosis of present industry. Finally, the conclusion will discuss how these myths have since been processed, particularly by Humphrey Jennings in his composite text on the Industrial Revolution, Pandaemonium: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers, 1660-1886, as well as pointing out avenues for future research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:english studies; nineteenth century; industrial revolution; historiography; mythology; goethe; mary shelley; thomas carlyle; karl marx
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Sep 2014 09:41

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