David E. Nye, Senior Research Fellow

David E Nye headshot

Contact: nyexx032@umn.edu


I am an American historian, born in Boston, specializing in the history of energy, particularly electricity, although some of my work explores other areas as well. I am active in the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), and I have served on the Executive Board there as well as on two of its prize committees. My teaching career since 1981 has been in Denmark, and I helped to host the SHOT annual meeting in Copenhagen a few years ago. I have also been active in several associations of American Studies, notably in the Nordic countries and the European Association of American Studies, and for a decade I served on the Danish-American Fulbright Board and Scholarship Committee.


    Brief Curriculum Vitae 

    Work Experience

    • Visiting Professor, Warwick University, UK, 2005-2006
    • Welch Visiting Professor, American Studies, Notre Dame, winter, 2003
    • Carlsberg Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, fall 1999
    • Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Leeds University, spring 1998
    • Fellow, Center for Mankind and Nature, Danish Research Council, 1996
    • Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Research Fellow, 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, held at MIT, 1981-1982
    • Fulbright Lecturer, Oviedo University, Spain, 1977-1978



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

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

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


    Prizes, Awards, and Distinctions

    • Knighthood conferred by the Queen of Denmark, 2013
    • Leonard da Vinci Medal, Society for the History of Technology, 2005
    • Danmarks Magisterforegning, Research Prize, 2015
    • Sally Hacker Book Prize, Society for the History of Technology, 2009
    • Elected By-fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, 1999
    • The Dexter Book Prize, Society for the History of Technology, 1993
    • Able Wolman Book Award, American Public Works Association, 1991


    Select Book Publications

    • The Environment Humanities [with Robert Emmett] (MIT Press, 2017).
    • American Illuminations (MIT Press, 2018).
    • America’s Assembly Line, 1913-2013 (MIT Press, 2013). Chinese translation in preparation.
    • When the Lights Went Out: A History of American Blackouts (MIT Press, 2010).
    • Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (MIT Press, 2006). Paper, 2007. Translated into French and German, 2008.
    • America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings (MIT Press, 2003).
    • Consuming Power: A Cultural History of American Energies (MIT Press, 1998).
    • Narratives and Spaces: Technology and the Construction of American Culture (Columbia University Press, 1997).
    • American Technological Sublime (MIT Press, 1994) [reviewed in Nature, 4.13.95].
    • Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940 (MIT Press, 1990). New York Times Notable Book of 1991.
    • Image Worlds: Corporate Identities at General Electric (MIT Press, 1985). Japanese edition, Kyushu University Press, 1997.
    • Aside from books, I have written c. 200 articles, book chapters, and book reviews, and served as a peer reviewer for many journals and university presses. A more detailed CV, including European publications, is available upon request.