Book ID: CBB938072321

The Imagined Empire: Balloon Enlightenments in Revolutionary Europe (2017)


Kim, Mi Gyung (Author)

University of Pittsburgh Press

Publication Date: 2017
Physical Details: 496 pages
Language: English

The hot-air balloon, invented by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783, launched for the second time just days before the Treaty of Paris would end the American Revolutionary War. The ascent in Paris—a technological marvel witnessed by a diverse crowd that included Benjamin Franklin—highlighted celebrations of French military victory against Britain and ignited a balloon mania that swept across Europe at the end of the Enlightenment. This popular frenzy for balloon experiments, which attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, fundamentally altered the once elite audience for science by bringing aristocrats and commoners together. The Imagined Empire explores how this material artifact, the flying machine, not only expanded the public for science and spectacle but also inspired utopian dreams of a republican monarchy that would obliterate social boundaries. The balloon, Mi Gyung Kim argues, was a people-machine, a cultural performance that unified and mobilized the people of France, who imagined an aerial empire that would bring glory to the French nation. This critical history of ballooning considers how a relatively simple mechanical gadget became an explosive cultural and political phenomenon on the eve of the French Revolution.

Reviewed By

Review de Oliveira, Patrick Luiz Sullivan (April 2019) Review of "The Imagined Empire: Balloon Enlightenments in Revolutionary Europe". Technology and Culture (pp. 628-630). unapi

Review Leslie Tomory (2017) Review of "The Imagined Empire: Balloon Enlightenments in Revolutionary Europe". Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (pp. 382-384). unapi

Review Michael R. Lynn (2018) Review of "The Imagined Empire: Balloon Enlightenments in Revolutionary Europe". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 178-179). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
González Redondo, Francisco A.
Boyer, Christine
Cohen, Jean-Louis
Harwood, John
Scamehorn, H. Lee
Abney, Gene
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Public Interest Report
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Johns Hopkins University Press
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Smithsonian Books
Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea
Aircraft; airplanes
Air transportation
Balloons and ballooning
Airships; dirigibles
Aeronautics; aviation
Torres Quevedo, Leonardo
Leonardo da Vinci
Eiffel, Alexandre Gustave
Mouillard, Louis-Pierre
Rey, Adolphe Augustin
United States
Illinois (U.S.)
20th century
19th century
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18th century
15th century
16th century
Great Britain. Royal Air Force

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