Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World

The Telegraph and Globalization

Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World

By the end of the nineteenth century the global telegraph network had connected all continents and brought distant people into direct communication 'at the speed of thought' for the first time. Roland Wenzlhuemer here examines the links between the development of the telegraph and the paths of globalization, and the ways in which global spaces were transformed by this technological advance. His groundbreaking approach combines cultural studies with social science methodology, including evidence based on historical GIS mapping, to shed new light on both the structural conditions of the global telegraph network and the historical agency of its users. The book reveals what it meant for people to be telegraphically connected or unconnected, how people engaged with the technology, how the use of telegraphy affected communication itself and, ultimately, whether faster communication alone can explain the central role that telegraphy occupied in nineteenth-century globalization.


"Wenzlhuemer's Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World is an important and useful book for historians of technology and capitalism. I wish it had been available when I wrote my own on the American telegraph industry."
David Hochfelder, ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology

"… a well written and entertaining story about the technological development and the sociocultural impact of the actors and the structures of the telegraph in a globalising world in the second half of the nineteenth century."
Michael Mann, H-Soz-u-Kult