The pivotal role played by speed in modern life: from art and architecture to graphics and design to the material culture.
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One hundred years ago, “The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism,” proclaimed that “the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.” A century later, the tempo of life continues to accelerate, propelled by the ubiquity of portable media and communications devices. Speed sports are as popular as ever, air travel continues to grow, and car culture is invading the most populous areas of the globe. Business books with titles like The Need for Speed, Speed is Life, Rev it Up, and The Age of Speed proliferate on bookstore shelves as never before. Yet speed seems anything but beautiful to a growing chorus of voices that has arisen to denounce its deleterious impact upon contemporary life: whether from the standpoint of environmental devastation, stressful lifestyles, urban sprawl, or the ubiquity of nutritionally deficient fast food.
Jeffrey T. Schnapp occupies the Pierotti Chair in Italian Literature at Stanford University, where he is professor of French and Italian, and Comparative Literature. In 2000 he founded the Stanford Humanities Lab, a transdiciplinary research center dedicated to exploring scenarios for the future of knowledge production and reproduction in the arts and humanities.