CFP for a book proposal| Clockwise!? Technologies of time in early modern Europe (1530-1830)

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During the early modern period horological technology took a quantum leap forward. While sixteenth-century clocks could easily loose several minutes a day, their inaccuracy had been, by the late eighteenth century, brought back to mere seconds. At the same time, clocks evolved from expensive, unwieldy machines into nifty, miniaturised, and (relatively) cheap versions, that could be taken along in the pockets of vests, coats or breeches. Last but not least, time was slowly but surely democratised, as longcase clocks, alarms, and pocket-watches percolated through the lower strata of society. These three evolutions are key ingredients in one of the classical master narratives in the history of past time awareness and timekeeping: David Landes’ horological revolution. Even though experts have challenged its teleological baseline, its technological determinism, and its Eurocentric lens, it still remains a moot question how time technology (re)shaped everyday life in early modern Europe and beyond. Was time technology really key to some sweeping (r)evolutions? Did clocks, pocket watches and other timepieces power the progress of science, administration, astronomy, business, justice, medicine, navigation, and other societal change? Or was their use rather a discursive strategy – a superficial kind of window-dressing or scientific swagger that physicians, chemists, cooks, judges, bankers, civil servants, and other professionals used to give their trade a modern touch? Was horological technology perceived as more efficient, accurate, or practical than the classic implements – sundials and hourglasses, heartbeats, knots, and prayers – that were traditionally used to time events? How resilient were these non-mechanical ways to measure time? Or, in sum, did clocks really matter? Therefore, our book aims to decentre, hone, or at least challenge the traditional role of clocks as agents of change in classic historiography.

We would like to invite papers that address these questions from a variety of perspectives – be it cultural, socioeconomic, or political history, history of science, medicine, consumption, mobility, and so on – and broach a series of new sources (including scientific manuals, criminal proceedings, trade registers, travel journals, letters and life-writing) from the early sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Moreover, we encourage papers with a comparative European or even global scope. After a first round of feedback, the papers will be included in a book proposal to be submitted at Routledge. The deadline for submitting an abstract (max. 500 words) and a short CV (max 100 words) is 1 December 2019. Full papers (max. 8000 words, including references) are expected before 1 March 2020. Please submit your abstract, CV & paper via:

Gianenrico Bernasconi & Marco Storni (Université de Neuchâtel)

Gerrit Verhoeven (University of Antwerp)



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