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Engines of RedemptionRailroads and the Reconstruction of Capitalism in the New South$
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R. Scott Jr. Huffard

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652818

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652818.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Phantasmagoria of the Rail

The Phantasmagoria of the Rail

Chapter:
(p.45) Chapter Two The Phantasmagoria of the Rail
Source:
Engines of Redemption
Author(s):

R. Scott Huffard Jr.

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652818.003.0003

This chapter discusses how white boosters used the symbolic power and magic of the railroad to support their regional and local claims that a New South had risen. It opens with a discussion of the New Orleans Exposition in 1884, which provided a microcosm for the transformations of the railroad. The chapter discusses how this magical thinking around the railroad meshes with Walter Benjamin’s concept of the phantasmagoria. The chapter then traces the arguments promoting 1880s railroad expansion projects in Macon, Greensboro, and Troy to show how this spirit filtered down into small towns across the South. It discusses how railroad construction imposed the logic of capitalism on southern environments and ends by looking at the community celebrations and travel narratives that boosters and journalists used to welcome new railroads.

Keywords:   World’s Fairs, Expositions, Phantasmagoria, Walter Benjamin, New Orleans, commodification, circulation, railroad construction, Southern Environment, travel

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