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From ‘Machine Love’ to ‘Automobile Orgies’: Motoring in Poland, 1918-1939

October 16, 2017 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

When Poland achieved statehood in 1918, there were no automobile factories from the former empires on its territory, roads were paltry or in disrepair from the war, and many private cars had been requisitioned for the war effort anyway. This did not stop automobile enthusiasts and Futurists alike from dreaming of a future when Poland would no longer be “dead last… in the great race of civilizations,” but could rather race to the fore of automotive adoption and expertise. Polish futurists even imagined “machine love,” the modern melding of man and machine, but for most Poles, cars remained toys for the elite, and the “automobile orgies” that snarled Warsaw’s streets only furthered the class divide between owners and the public.

Nathaniel Wood is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses on modern European and East Central European history, urban history, and the history of technology. His first book, Becoming Metropolitan: Urban Selfhood and the Making of Modern Cracow (Northern Illinois UP, 2010) explores press representations of the city in the early twentieth century, including attitudes toward urban expansion, electric streetcars, automobiles, airplanes, and big-city crime and filth. He is currently working on a book about cycling, motoring, and aviation in Poland from 1885-1939.


October 16, 2017
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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