In The Visible Hand, Alfred Chandler gives us a model of the rise of the modern business enterprise in the United States—a model constructed on technological determinism, propelled by the market, and creating a new agency: that of middle managers who oversaw production, distribution, communication, and all the various functions of the large corporation.
Every time the gold standard becomes a topic of discussion in a history class, my heart moves into doubletime, I speed read beyond paragraphs on Keynesian economics into socio-political-cultural text, and I hide under the desk to avoid having to speak. It’s crowded under there. I join a rather sizable group of historians and students of history with little or no background in economics, business, or finance.
The intersection of history and environmental geography is only one of many laudable qualities of Scott Reynolds Nelson’s work, Steel Drivin’ Man, John Henry: The Untold Story of an American Legend. In his narrative, geoforms have agency (to use a word that likely doesn’t appear in Nelson’s highly readable narrative), and to those who look closely, the history of our move to dominate natural surroundings is written on every landscape.
But this is one of Nelson’s anecdotes that had me laughing out loud from the end of a long line of automobiles waiting for emission inspections.
There’s an aspect to toggling between past-ese and present-ese that the Polyglot Manifesto does not address. Sepoy emphasizes that the polyglot "has to speak within and without the historic discipline—with colleagues in the Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Computer Sciences and…with the digital public."