History Department
History Department

Hist. Science Colloq.: "Balloons and the Theatrical Polity"

Fri, October 23, 2009 | GAR 1.102

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The University of Texas History of Science Colloquium presents a talk by Dr. Mi Gyung Kim, associate professor of History at North Carolina State University, entitled "Balloons and Theatrical Polity".

The balloon fever that engulfed the public just a few years before the French Revolution, long viewed as the crucible of modern polity, makes it a particularly suitable subject to explore the relationship between science, Enlightenment ideology, the French Revolution, and modernity. The balloon became an instant cultural attraction by activating the existing administrative, literary, and commercial networks for its multiplication all over France and beyond.

Through its universal appeal, the balloon shaped people's imagination of the nation and the empire as political entities based on the technical and moral powers of science rather than on the king's divine rights. Like no other scientific gadgets, symbols or discourse, the balloon demonstrated science's authority to induce universal veneration among the people and its power to integrate diverse social groups as citizens of an imagined nation that was destined to conquer the world.

Sponsored by: UT History of Science Colloquium

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