Reminding us that all media were once new, this book challenges the notion that to study new media is to study exclusively today's new media. Examining a variety of media in their historic contexts, it explores those moments of transition when new media were not yet fully defined and their significance was still in flux. Examples range from familiar devices such as the telephone and phonograph to unfamiliar curiosities such as the physiognotrace and the zograscope. Moving beyond the story of technological innovation, the book considers emergent media as sites of ongoing cultural exchange. It considers how habits and structures of communication can frame a collective sense of public and private and how they inform our apprehensions of the "real." By recovering different (and past) senses of media in transition, New Media, 1740-1915 promises to deepen our historical understanding of all media and thus to sharpen our critical awareness of how they acquire their meaning and power.
Contributors: Wendy Bellion, Erin C. Blake, Patricia Crain, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Geoffrey B. Pingree, Gregory Radick, Laura Burd Schiavo, Katherine Stubbs, Diane Zimmerman Umble, Paul Young.