Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts Presents Lecture on Consumerism of War

The Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA) will host an engaging lecture explaining how modern United States warfare depends upon technology and consumerism, 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23.

consumingwarKate Epstein, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers–Camden, will present the lecture, titled “Consuming War,” drawing on the exhibition, “(re)collecting, (re)constructing,” currently featured in the Stedman Gallery. The exhibit features the stunning original works of sculptors Scott Pellnat and Allen C. Topolski, who transform found objects and materials in magically illusory ways. The display includes a fantastical squadron of vintage airplanes.

The talk, which is free and open to the general public, will be held in the gallery, located in the Fine Arts Complex, on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

Epstein explores the origins of the merger between government and private industry in her new book, Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain, to be published in January by Harvard University Press. In this thorough analysis, Epstein uses the self-propelled torpedo as a case study to examine how the acquisition of advanced weapons technology changed the relationship between the public and private sectors in the United States and Great Britain in the two decades leading up to World War I.

DSCF0458.jpgEpstein argues that torpedoes represented a new class or type of technology that required a new relationship – a new procurement paradigm – between the state and society. She explains that, up until the late 19th century, governments had either built weapons entirely themselves or purchased them as finished products from defense contractors in the private sector. “Torpedoes were so sophisticated and expensive that this traditional approach wouldn’t work,” explains Epstein, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers–Camden. “Neither governments nor private companies could develop and produce them from start to finish.”

Epstein joined the history department at Rutgers-Camden in fall 2011. A resident of Philadelphia, she earned a bachelor’s degree in history summa cum laude from Yale University in 2004, a master of philosophy degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge in 2005, and a doctorate in history from the Ohio State University in 2011. Her scholarship focuses on military history and international relations in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Posted in: Research Highlights

Comments are closed.