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HISTORY 339T: What is Time?

At a basic level, history is the study of change over time. But the modern discipline of history, as it was formed during the Enlightenment, radically changed conceptions of time itself: from something at times understood as cyclical or directionless to something linear and teleological. Modern history then prompted further reconceptualizations of time: Capitalism introduced new ways of valuing time; the Darwinian revolution introduced a new scale of earthly time; the world wars dented faith in the idea that time passed in the direction of progress; and now climate change has altered conceptions of time in a new way. This course examines evolving understandings of the medium of the historian's craft: what is time? We will examine poetic, scientific, literary, and geographical conceptions of time and trace time's modern history: how colonialism and capitalism produced new experiences of time, and anticolonial and anticapitalist critiques of those experiences. Throughout, we will consider how this history should shape the way historians think about change over time, in terms of questions of scale, human experience, and disciplinary purpose.
Terms: Win | Units: 4-5
Instructors: Satia, P. (PI)
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