Divergent timescapes : tracking a temporal revolution through the long nineteenth century (1750-1914)
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Did nineteenth-century Britain experience a temporal revolution? If so, how can the course and impact of such a complex, primarily mental upheaval be effectively analysed from a focused, historical perspective? This project investigates these questions from eight distinct angles by adapting the physics notion of ‘timescapes’ as a method of historical analysis. Each of the four main chapters focuses on two contemporaneous, yet differing temporal worldviews (timescapes), defining their nature and attributes then investigating key catalytic conflicts that fed the transition from one prevailing temporal outlook to another. Drawing on primarily British and American sources the aim is to demonstrate, not only the ongoing significance of the nineteenth century’s temporal revolution, but also the viability of ‘historical timescapes’ as a methodological, structural, and analytical took – one that can complement, rather than displace, the traditional chronological structure of history. Ultimately, this project argues that Britain’s nineteenth-century temporal revolution was not indicative of a sharp, irreversible break in linear time between the pre-industrial and industrial world but, rather, of a multi-phased, ongoing conflict between layers of coexisting yet divergent ‘timescapes’: culturally informed spatiotemporal archetypes that, once supplanted, did not fade but continue to influence our current experience use, and expectation of time.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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