2015-2016: Modern Time

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We are pleased to announce that for the 2015-2016 academic year, the Modernities Working Group will explore the problem of temporality in modernity, broadly construed. Under the heading “Modern Time,” we will together examine questions of periodization, measurement, duration, scale, and endurance from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

ModernitiesFall2015ImageEver since Baudelaire’s “Painter of Modern Life” essay described the modern experience of time as “ephemeral, fugitive, contingent,” we have known that the reorganization of temporality was one of the prime accomplishments of modernization.

This term’s meetings both frame this canonical problem and extend it in new directions.

Wednesday, September 30, 12:30 pm: Reading Group Meeting. “Ephemeral, Fugitive, Contingent: Time and the Modern, Again.” Readings:

Stephen Kern, from The Culture of Time and Space

Jimena Canales, from A Tenth of a Second: A History

Lee Edelman et al., “Theorizing Queer Temporalities: A Roundtable Discussion”

Dipesh Chakrabarty: “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” 

Wednesday, October 28th, 12:30 pm, Lannan Center (New North 408): Lauren M.E. Goodlad, Kathryn Paul Professorial Scholar of English and former Director, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Victorian Studies and the Longue Durée.”

Professor Goodlad’s discussion will take the form of a 20 minute talk, followed by an open discussion of the methodological coda to her recent book, The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic. This short chapter confronts questions of periodization and readerly method in the context of what she posits as our long Victorian contemporaneityGoodlad, VGA Coda

Thursday, December 3, 2015, 12:30 pm, Lannan Center (New North 408): Carlene E. Stevens, Curator, Divison of Works and Industry, National Museum of American History. “Reinventing the Wristwatch”

(All events will be held on Georgetown’s main campus; details forthcoming.)

CyanotypeLibraryofCongressIMAGE: Julius Friedrich Sachse, “The Evolution of the Cereus.” Cyanotype. c. 1888. “Series of 15 cyanotypes taken between May 28th and June 1st, throughout the day and night, to monitor the progress of several blossoms of a cereus plant.” Library of Congress. (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98518100/)

About Nathan Hensley

Nathan K. Hensley is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University; he works on nineteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and the novel.
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