Alexandra Macdonald

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Barra Material Culture FellowPh.D. Candidate, William & Mary

The Social Life of Time in the Anglo-Atlantic World, 1660-1830

My doctoral dissertation, The Social Life of Time in the Anglo-Atlantic World, 1660-1830, examines conceptions of time and temporality in the long eighteenth century by bringing together methods from material culture studies, histories of science and technology, and sensory studies and histories of the body. It highlights four case studies to reveal how even as Britons and Anglo-Americans increasingly turned to mechanized time as measured by the clock, in maker’s spaces across the Anglo-Atlantic world, time was not experienced by a mechanical timepiece, but by using the craftsperson’s sensory body. I argue that when we center embodied, sensory, non-mechanized perceptions of time as experienced by a diverse group of makers we can reconsider the long eighteenth century as a period of temporal contestation. Mechanical timekeeping was only one thread in a larger tapestry of trans-Atlantic material manifestations of time and timekeeping, and for makers, it was perhaps the least useful of those threads. 

Read more about Alexandra Macdonald on her Fellow Profile Page.