Engine of modernity

The omnibus and urban culture in nineteenth-century Paris

By Masha Belenky

Engine of modernity

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3859-0
  • Pages: 200
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: October 2019
  • BIC Category: Literature, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, French, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
  • Series: Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century


Engine of modernity examines the connection between public transportation and popular culture in nineteenth-century Paris through a focus on the omnibus - a horse-drawn vehicle of urban transport. The omnibus generated innovations in social practices by compelling passengers of diverse backgrounds to interact within the vehicle's close confines. The arrival of the omnibus in the streets of Paris and in the pages of popular literature acted as a motor for a fundamental cultural shift in how people thought about the city, its social life, and its artistic representations. At the intersection of literary criticism and cultural history, Engine of modernity argues that the omnibus was a metaphor through which writers and artists explored evolving social dynamics of class and gender, meditated on the meaning of progress and change, and reflected on one's own literary and artistic practices.


1. Modernity in motion: Omnibus literature and popular culture in nineteenth-century Paris
2. Transitory Tales: reading the omnibus repertoire
Part II
3. Circulation and visibility: Staging class aboard the omnibus
4. Moral geographies: Women and public transport


Masha Belenky is Associate Professor of French at the George Washington University

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 30% off all future book orders

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout