Skip to main content

Distributed for UCL Press

Being Modern

The Cultural Impact of Science in the Early Twentieth Century

Distributed for UCL Press

Being Modern

The Cultural Impact of Science in the Early Twentieth Century

In the early decades of the twentieth century, engagement with science was commonly used as an emblem of modernity. This phenomenon is now attracting increased attention in different historical specialties. Being Modern builds on this recent interest to explore engagements with science across culture from the end of the nineteenth century to approximately 1940. Addressing the breadth of cultural forms in Britain and the western world from the architecture of Le Corbusier to working class British science fiction, Being Modern paints a rich picture. Seventeen distinguished contributors from a range of fields, including the history of science and technology, art, architecture, and English culture and literature examine the issues involved. The book will be a valuable resource for further examination of culture as an interconnected web of which science was a critical part.

454 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.

UCL Press image

View all books from UCL Press

Table of Contents

"Being Modern: Introduction

Robert Bud and Morag Shiach

Section 1: Science, modernity and culture

1 Multiple modernisms in concert: the sciences, technology and culture in Vienna around 1900

Mitchell G. Ash

2 The cinematic sound of industrial modernity: first notes

Tim Boon

3 Woolf’s atom, Eliot’s catalyst and Richardson’s waves of
light: science and modernism in 1919

Morag Shiach

4 T.S. Eliot: modernist literature, disciplines and the
systematic pursuit of knowledge

Kevin Brazil

Section 2: Tensions over science

5 Modernity and the ambivalent significance of applied science: motors, wireless, telephones and poison gas

Robert Bud

6 ‘The springtime of science’: modernity and the future and
past of science

Frank A.J.L. James

7 ‘Come on you demented modernists, let’s hear from you’:
science fans as literary critics in the 1930s

Charlotte Sleigh

Section 3:
Mathematics and physics

8 Modern by numbers: modern mathematics as a model for
literary modernism

Nina Engelhardt

9 Sculpture in the Belle Epoque: mathematics, art and
apparitions in school and gallery

Lewis Pyenson

10 Architecture, science and purity

Judi Loach

11 A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Ham: wireless,
modernity and interwar nuclear physics

Jeff Hughes

12 Whose modernism, whose speed? Designing mobility for the
future, 1880s–1945

Ruth Oldenziel

Section 4: Life, biology and the organicist metaphor

13 Ludwig Koch’s birdsong on wartime BBC radio: knowledge,
citizenship and solace

Michael Guida

14 ‘More Modern than the Moderns’: performing cultural
evolution in the Kibbo Kift Kindred

Annebella Pollen

15 Organicism and the modern world: from A.N. Whitehead to
Wyndham Lewis and D.H. Lawrence

Craig Gordon

16 Liquid crystal as chemical form and model of thinking in
Alfred Döblin’s modernist science

Esther Leslie

17 ‘I am attracted to the natural order of things’: Le
Corbusier’s rejection of the machine

Tim Benton

Epilogue: Science after modernity

Frank A.J.L. James and
Robert Bud

Select bibliography


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press