Bodies and Machines

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Seltzer, Mark. Bodies and Machines. New York and London: Routledge, 1992. Abingdon, Oxon, and New York: Routledge Revivals, 2016.

Cited by Timo Siivonen in "Cyborgs and Generic Oxymorons: The Body and Technology in William Gibson's Cyberspace Trilogy"; and by Mirk Nakamura's "Horror and Machines in Prewar Japan: The Mechanical Uncanny in YUMENO Kyûsaju's Dogura magura."

Publisher's blurb for 2016 reprint:

Bodies and Machines is a striking and persuasive examination of the body-machine complex and its effects on the modern American cultural imagination. Bodies and Machines, first published in 1992, explores the links between techniques of representation and social and scientific technologies of power in a wide range of realist and naturalist discourses and practices. Seltzer draws on realist and naturalist writing, such as the work of Hawthorne and Henry James, and the discourses which inform it: from scouting manuals and the programmes of systematic management to accounts of sexual biology and the rituals of consumer culture. He explores other mass-produced and mass-consumed cultural forms, including visual representations such as composite photographs, scale models, and the astonishing iconography of standardization.

Reviewed by Nina Baym, JEGP (The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 92.4 (Oct 1993): 535-37. On JSTR.[1] Bodies and Machines, Baym writes, "centers on the cultural discourses through which new and conflicted apprehensions of the relationship between the organic and the mechanical were formulated and expressed in this turbulent time." The article on Seltzer in continues, using Baym,

For examples to illustrate these discourses, Seltzer draws on books that were written in the style of naturalism: he examines works by authors Frank Norris, Henry James, Stephen Crane, Jack London, and Rebecca Harding Davis that show how these writers change the way we look at the human body; and he explores modern ideas about the relationship between our bodies and technology, our bodies and our concept of personhood, the ways we categorize ourselves using statistical techniques, the relationship between male sexuality and mechanism, and the interactions between modern market culture and modern machine culture. The book, Baym concluded, "is about 'notions,' that is, ideas, because it believes that ideas have an effect on people's lives. And the ideas it is most interested in are those that affect people most immediately, most romantically — ideas of one's body."[2]

See also J. H. Chung, Henry James and the Media Arts of Modernity, who also cites Seltzer.

RDE, Completing, 27May19, 14Jan20