The Ascending Republic: Aeronautics, Culture, and Politics in France, 1860-1914 explores how France, through its relationship to ballooning, became the center of pre-WWI aeronautics. By tracing how aeronauts navigated the interstices of politics, culture, and gender to rehabilitate the balloon (an artifact that became discredited soon after its invention in 1783), I show how French civil society cultivated a thriving form of early airmindedness decades before the advent of the airplane—one that encompassed such distinct cultural strands as sacrificial patriotism, aristocratic modernity, colonial anxiety, and technological cosmopolitanism. I argue that ballooning became a patriotic endeavor that people from all political stripes could get behind, and was a key practice in helping shape the image of France as a nation in which technology, quality, and style came together in a single package. In developing my argument, I incorporate from and contribute to a variety of fields—from the history of science and technology to celebrity studies and the history of civil society in Third Republic France.
Please get in touch if you would like a copy of the dissertation on which my book manuscript is based on and I will provide you with the password to download the file.