Accelerated Academy #4 Academic Timescapes: Perspectives, Reflections, Responsibilities

After meetings in Prague, Warwick and Leiden, the fourth Accelerated Academy conference calls for a more nuanced perspective in order to advance our understanding of academic temporalities as experienced, understood, controlled, managed, imagined and contested across different institutional contexts. The question of temporality – the human perception and social organization of time – in and of the academy has been attracting considerable attention across the social sciences in recent years. Notable accounts have demonstrated that time is an important research object potentially offering new insights into the complex and shifting nature of the contemporary academy and its futures. Existing studies tend to stress how pressures intrinsic to the imperatives of the knowledge economy and academic/epistemic capitalism co-shape policies and subsequently impact how time is perceived and experienced on the level of individuals and institutions, leading to concerns over their temporal relation to wider society. Taking the cue from the long tradition of sociology of time the conference aims to tackle various pressing question in the emerging field of the social studies of academic time.


Barbara Adam (Cardiff University) Academic Timescapes in Focus

Time forms a largely un-reflected aspect of our daily working lives in the public and private sphere. It is something we experience and do. Simultaneously, however, time is our prime organising tool. With calendar and clock time we create, order, shape, and regulate the world we live in. To understand time, therefore, demands that we render explicit what is currently implicit. To this end I very briefly explore the question ‘What is time?’ before focusing on the complexity of temporal features that I have theorised as timescape. In this talk I select for special attention temporality, tempo and future to help facilitate thinking about academic work and study through an explicitly temporal lens. I consider such a conceptual emphasis important as it forms a foundation on which alternatives to current praxis can be imagined, envisaged and developed.

Stephen Kern (Ohio State University) The Nature of Time from Modernism to Postmodernism

This talk surveys changing ideas about and experiences of three aspects of the nature of time (its number, texture, and order) between the years 1880-1918 and 1980 and the present, the subject of the first chapter of an update of my earlier book titled The Culture of Time and Space: 1880-1918. In the earlier study thinking divided between its number as one or many, its texture as atomistic or a flux, and its order as irreversible or reversible. In the later period these pairings expanded and changed considerably, changes that I explain largely from new transportation and communication technologies such as commercial airlines, helicopters, jet planes, spaceships, and digital media (number); CDs, DVDs, and the internet (texture); and CDs, DVDs, YouTube, video games, and CGI (order). At the end of each section I discuss a novel from the later period that captures these changes in historically distinctive ways: Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Clocks for number, Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler for texture, and Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow for order. The overall argument for this chapter and the rest of the book is that new technologies changed the scale of time and space, and that simple change of scale along with other major historical developments such as decolonization, the end of the Cold War, 9/11 and the larger cultural impact of the internet go a long way toward explaining the new sense of time and space in recent years.

Organized by Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences & University of Minho, Research Centre on Communication Studies (CECS). Funded by Czech Science Foundation, Czech Academy of Sciences (Strategie AV21) & Portuguese Science Foundation, CECS, University of Minho.