David Nye


Personal profile


David E. Nye is Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. He is the author or editor of 25 books. Two of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the only person who has won all three of the higest awards given by the Society for the History of Technology: The Dexter Book Prize (1993), The Sally Hacker Book Prize (2009), and the Leonard da Vinci Medal (2005).  


B.A. American Studies, cum laude, Amherst College, 1968

M.A. American Studies, University of Minnesota, 1971

Ph.D. American Studies, University of Minnesota, 1974



Knighted by the Queen of Denmark, 2014

Danmarks Magisterforegning, Research Prize, 2015 

Leonard da Vinci Medal, Society for the History of Technology, 2005

Sally Hacker Book Prize, 2009

Elected permanent by-fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, 1999

The Dexter Prize, Society for the History of Technology, 1993

Able Wolman Book Award, American Public Works Association, 1991

Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by MIT Press, 1998 & 2003



Senior Reseach Fellow, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, 2017- 2022

Visiting Professor, Virginia Tech, September, 2018

Sussex University, February, 2018

Smithsonian Institution, January, 2016

Visiting Research Fellow, University of Virginia, September, 2015

Visiting Professor, Warwick University, UK, 2005-2006

Welch Visiting Professor, American Studies, Notre Dame [USA], winter, 2003

Carlsberg Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, fall 1999

Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Leeds University, spring 1998

Center for Mankind and Nature, Danish Research Council, 1996

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Research Fellowship, 1991-1992

American Council of Learned Societies, Research Fellowship, 1986

Visiting Scholar, History of Science, Harvard University, 1981-1982

National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 1981-198

Fulbright Lecturer, Oviedo University, Spain, 1977-1978



Society for the History of Technology [Executive Committee, 2000-2003],

American Studies Association,

European Association of American Studies,

Nordic Association for American Studies




Seven Sublimes  MIT Press, May, 2022 

The United (and divided) States, Akademisk Forlag, 2021

Conflicted American Landscapes, MIT Press, April 2021. Paperback, 2021.

American Illuminations, MIT Press, 2018

The Environmental Humanities. MIT Press, 2017  paperback, 2017. [with Roberet Emmett]

America's Assembly Line,  MIT Press, 2013  paperback, 2014 [translated into Chinese, 2017]

When the Lights Went Out: A History of American Blackouts. MIT Press, March, 2010. Paperback, 2012. [Japanese translation.]

Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. MIT Press, 2006. Paper, 2007. [Translated into French & German] Paperback, 2008.

Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings. MIT Press, 2003 [Review-New York Times, 31.5.04] paper, 2004.

Consuming Power: A Cultural History of American Energies. MIT Press, 1998, paper, 1999.

Narratives and Spaces: Technology and the Construction of American Culture. Exeter University Press & Columbia University Press, 1997, paper, 1998.

American Technological Sublime. MIT Press, 1994 [review in Nature, 4.13.95]. Paper, 1995

Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940. MIT Press, 1990. [New York Times Sunday Book Review, 9.15.1991]. Notable Book of the Year, 1991. Paper, 1992.

Image Worlds: Corporate Identities at General Electric. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985. [Review, The Nation, 13.9.86] Japanese edition, Kyushu University Press, 1997.

The Invented Self: An Anti-biography of Thomas A. Edison. University of Southern Denmark Press, 1983. [Review, American Quarterly, 1985]

A History of the Youth Conservation Corps. Washington: U. S. Gov. Printing Office, 1981.

Henry Ford: Ignorant Idealist. (revised doctoral dissertation) New York: Kennikat Press, 1979. [Reviewed in American Historical Review, October, 1980].


  1. Technologies of Landscape: Reaping to Recycling, Massachusetts U Press, 2000, 292 pp.
  2. A Catalogue of the General Electric Photographic Archives, 1890-1940. New York: General Electric Co., 1981, 175 pp + 200 illustrations. 2nd edition, 1998.

Textbooks and conference volumes PUBLISHED IN EUROPE

  1. Technologie & Civilisation: 10 questions fondamentales liées aux technologies. Paris: Fyp éditions, 2008. 223 s.
  2. In der Technikwelt leben: Vom natürlichen Werkzeug Alltagskultur. Berlin & Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademisk Verlag, 2007.315 s
  3. Beyond the Crisis in American Studies: Scandinavian Perspectives, ed. Odense: SDU Forlag, 2007
  4. The American Century: A Chronology and Outline (with Thomas Johansen) Odense: SDU Forlag, 2007
  5. Contemporary American Society. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1st ed. 1990; 7th edition, 2009, 285 pp.
  6. American Photographs in Europe, 1840-1990. (15 essays, ed. with Mick Gidley) Free University of Amsterdam Press, 1994. 281 pp.
  7. Consumption and American Culture. (14 essays, ed. with Carl Pedersen) Free University of Amsterdam Press, 1990. 239 pp.
  8. American Studies: A Source Book. (with Niels Thorsen and Carl Pedersen) Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1989. 257 pp.
  9. American Studies in Transition (14 essays, ed., with Christian Kold Thomsen). Odense: Odense University Press, 1985, 324 pp.
  10. The Anti-Landscape (12 essays, co-edited with Sarah Elkin) Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014


  1. "Architecture of the Night," Architecture Bulletin. 2007; 1:3, Spring. Rotterdam, Holland: s. 1-7
  2. "Are Blackouts Landscapes?" American Studies in Scandinavia. 2007 (39:2), December. s. 72-84
  3. "Technology and the Production of Difference." American Quarterly. 2006 ; 58:3, september. s. 597-618
  4. "Prize Acceptance Speech, Leonardo da Vinci Medal," Technology and Culture. 47:1 (2006)
  5. "Why Technology Matters," Historically Speaking, 7:6 (August, 2006), 14-16
  6. "Electricity and Culture: Conceptualizing the American Case," in Annales historiques de l’électricité, 2005, 125-138.
  7. "Technology, Nature, and American Origin Stories," Environmental History 6:1 (2003), 8-25.
  8. "Technology and Cultural Difference,” American Studies in Scandinavia 29:2,127-144
  9. "Path Insistence: Comparing European and American Attitudes Toward Energy," Journal of International Affairs 53:1 (Fall, 1999), 129-148.
  10. "A Moment of Synthesis: Recent Textbooks in the History of Technology" Technology and Culture 39:2 (April, 1998), 292-299.
  11. "Shaping Communication Networks: Telegraph, Telephone, Computer," in Social Research 64:3 (1997), 1067-1092.
  12. "The Sublime Lift-off at Cape Kennedy," Ethics and Aesthetics: The Moral Turn of Postmodernism, eds. Gerhard Hoffmann, Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Universietsverlag C. Winter, 1996, 343-360.
  13. "Don't Fly Us to the Moon: The American Public and the Apollo Program," Foundation 66 (Spring, 1996), 69-81.
  14. "Yesterday's Ritual Tomorrows: The New York World's Fair of 1939," Anthropology and History, Fall, 1992


  1. "Introduction." The World Beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe. Columbus, Ohio : Ohio University Press, 2008.
  2. "The Cultural and Historic Roots of American Icons," Icons: Magnets of Meaning, Aaron Betsky, ed., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1997, 92-112.
  3. “Critics of Technology,” in A Companion to American Technology, Carroll Pursell, ed., Blackwell, 2005.
  4. “The Sublime and the Skyline, ” in The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories, Roberta Moudry, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2005, 255-270.
  5. “Technological Prediction: A Promethean Problem”, in Marita Sturken, Douglas Thomas and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, eds. Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears that Shape New Technologies. Temple University Press, 2004,159-176.
  6. “Visualizing Eternity: Photographic Constructions of the Grand Canyon,” Joan M. Schwartz and James R Ryan, eds., Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination, London: I. B. Taurus, 2003, 74-96
  7. "Postmodernism and the Computer Society," Affirmation and Negation in Contemporary American Culture, eds. Gerhard Hoffmann, Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Universietsverlag, Winter, 1994, 313-328.

COURSES TAUGHT American Studies, Theory and MethodsIntroduction to American StudiesTopics in the History of TechnologyTopics in American CultureLeaving the Land: Rural America 1600-2000From Virgin Land to CyberspaceInventing Mass Culture, 1880-1930 Disaster CultureSurvey of American HistoryHistory of American TechnologyTime, Work, and LeisureMark Twain's America, The City in American Culture,Contemporary American Society


Danish Fulbright Board & Fulbright Scholarship Committee, 1987-1997

Chair, Center for American Studies, Odense, 1992-1997, 2000, 2003-2004, 2007

Executive Board, Society for the History of Technology, 2001-2004

IEEE Prize Committee, Society for the History of Technology, 1991-1994

The Executive Board, H-AMSTDY (Internet discussion group), 1994-1996

President, Danish American Studies Association, 1992-94

Vice-President, Nordic American Studies Association, 1992-1995

Danish Inter-university censor corps, Denmark, 1992-1997

Member of American Studies Associations: ASA, DAAS, EAAS, & NAAS

Board Member, Photography Museum, Brandts, 2001-2004

Executive Board, Nordic American Studies Association, 1987-1989, 1992-1996

Editorial Board, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 1987-1991

Editorial Board, American Studies, 1993-1997

Co-Editor, with Carl Pedersen, American Studies in Scandinavia, 1996-2003

Editorial Board, Journal of American History, 2000 –

Chair, Editorial Board, American Studies in Scandinavia, 2004-2010

Editorial Board, University of Pennsylvania Press, Space. Technology and Architecture

2006-Editorial Board, University of Massachusetts Press Technology Series: 2008 -


Yale University Press, Chicago University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, MIT Press, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Harvard University Press, California University Press, etc.


External positions

Research Fellow, University of Minnesota

1. Jan 2018 → …


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