Jennifer Alexander

Associate Professor of Engineering University of Minnesota

I am a historian of modern technology, with specialization in technology and religion; industrial culture; and engineering, ethics, and society. I hold an M.A. in modern German history, and a PhD in history of technology, emphasizing modern Europe, from the University of Washington (Seattle). Before coming to Minnesota I held a research fellowship atCNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Paris. My early articles and first book, The Mantra of Efficiency, focused on foundational concepts of industry and industrial culture; the translation of technological values into social values; the mathematics of machine performance; and the developing cultural power of a particular technological value: efficiency. Mantra of Efficiency was awarded the Edelstein Prize by the Society for the History of Technology, as outstanding book published in the preceding three years. My current research focuses on technology and religion. I am at work on a book manuscript analyzing the international religious critique of technology that developed following WWII. Methodologically, I ask how religious and theological interpretations of technology have changed over time; how, over time, technologies and engineering have extended their reach into the human world through a developing technological orthodoxy; and how these changes have affected each other. In particular, my research seeks to understand the widespread mobilizing of religious critique of technology in the post-war world. I teach courses in history of technology, engineering ethics, theories of technological change, and religion and technology.