This assignment is based on a careful and thorough reading of material in Chapters 1-2 in Joseph Corn’s The Winged Gospel and Courtwright, Sky as Frontier: Adventure, Aviation, and Empire, chapters 1-4 (additional chapters in later assignments).
For this assignment you will write two five-page essays. Each essay will be worth 50 points.
Winged Gospel is an example of what is often being called “the new aviation history.” Traditional aviation history focused primarily on planes, pilots, and, to a less extent, aircraft designers or entrepreneurs. It was very “internalist” in that it focused on the “thing” or the “person” without placing the “thing” or the “person” within the larger context of American history. In The Winged Gospel, Corn examines the social and cultural responses to the airplane in the United States, focusing on the period from 1908 to 1950. Sky as Frontier is also part of the “new aviation history.” Courwright’s work draws on one of the most powerful interpretative themes in American history, the frontier, and applies it in a very systematic and sophisticated way to the history of the commercial aviation industry. It also Briefly explores how well the “frontier typology” can be applied to the history of space exploration (where space has been described as “the final frontier.) The idea of “frontier” has been an important one in the history of aviation to the present: Boeing recently had as it corporate motto “always new frontiers.” Published in 2005, this book, like Corn’s, is widely cited by other scholars in the field.