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HCAR Works-In-Progress Seminar – Elizabeth Bacon Eager
November 18, 2022, 2:30 pm-4:00 pmFree
Elizabeth Bacon Eager will present “Technologies of Projection and the Production of Space at West Point” a chapter from her current book project titled The Technology of Drawing: Image and Industry in Early America.
The broader project examines the role of drawing as an instrument of industrialization in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century America. Examining mechanical drawing tools, technical drawing exercises, patent illustrations, and mechanical workshop drawings, the book explores the centrality of drawing to the production and dissemination of technical knowledge in the first decades of industrialization. Tracing the ways in which these drawing practices intersected with key institutions (like the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Patent Office) and with key internal improvements (like the construction of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Navy Yard), Eager argues that the U.S. can be understood to have both literally and figuratively drawn itself into existence.
The chapter she will be sharing is titled “Technologies of Projection and the Production of Space at West Point.” Examining the role of drawing at the nation’s first military academy, but more saliently its first school of engineering, this chapter looks at the way in which engineering education in the early U.S. was underwritten by the tools and techniques of graphic projection. Encompassing a wide range of drawing practices, all predicated on the science of projective geometry, projection permitted the West Point cadet to capture, conceptualize, and control space with a great economy of means. With just a few small strokes of the pen, he could materialize a radical change in the environment, literally projecting a new reality onto the American landscape. Looking at how this system of instruction instilled particular habits of both mind and body in West Point’s cadets, this chapter examines the way in which the act of projection came to express both the technological and territorial ambitions of the young United States.
To receive an electronic copy of the paper prior to the seminar, please contact Alex Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.