Imagining the Age of Oil: Case Studies in British Petrocultures, 1865-1935

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Wereley, Ian




This dissertation investigates the cultural history of oil in Britain over a seventy-year period, between 1865 and 1935. While much has been written about the economic, political, diplomatic, geopolitical, and military aspects of oil during this timeframe, there have been few investigations into the ways that cultural factors have shaped the history of oil in Britain, a gap in the literature that this study seeks to fill. Britain was one of the first industrialized nations to make the transition to oil and in the period under consideration, everyday consumption of the commodity increased dramatically, especially in the cities, where new oil technologies for heating, illumination, and transportation became commonplace conveniences. Using understudied sources such as public lectures, cartoons, advertisements, exhibitions, and architecture, the dissertation examines the discourses of transition that were created to help Britons navigate their changing energy landscapes. It maps the complexities, opportunities, and impasses that accompanied the historical rise of oil in Britain during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and argues that the system of things that brought oil from the wellhead to the consumer was predicated on a vast constellation of ideas.


History - Modern
History of Science




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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