My dissertation, entitled “Punctuality: morality, authority, and time measurement in Victorian Britain,” examines how, during the nineteenth-century, diverse cultures of time were underwritten by discourses about the value of time and its proper use, very often articulated as punctuality. Railways, telegraphs, and time-keeping devices created a landscape within which punctuality could at once evoke safety, class, piety, and morality. Being a passenger entailed waiting for trains and reading timetables, pocket watches, and station clocks. Yet while railways, telegraphs, and electric clocks could generate new temporal regimes, deeply rooted values about time and its use underwrote efforts to discipline those systems and the people using them. I first trace the way punctuality was generated as a metric of piety and sensibility through Evangelical sermons and magazines in the late eighteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century the value was largely secularized, but breeching this moral code was no less grave. Throughout the nineteenth century, punctuality sustained efforts to construct electrically regulated clocks, discipline workers, and prevent railway accidents. Understanding how this value was constructed and debated reveals the extent to which technology might disrupt traditional codes of trust and propriety, and how codes were transformed or generated to fill the voids. Punctuality’s representation of these codes, made it a, if not the, Victorian value par excellence.
This course explores the history of the British Empire from the mid-nineteenth century to decolonization after the Second World War. We will consider the economic, social, and cultural consequences of empire in British colonies as well as in the British Isles. Throughout the course we will ask how empire influenced ideas of progress and modernity, and shaped conceptions of the nation, race, and gender, both in Britain and its colonies. As we encounter narratives of conquest, collaboration, resistance, and exchange we will interrogate the relationship between the periphery and metropole and evaluate the ways that historians have described this relationship.
An investigation of main themes in European history from the French Revolution to the beginning of the 20th century. Topics of particular importance are: domestic politics; the interaction of states; the formation of new states; social and economic transformations affecting the whole civilization; major cultural expressions of the century.
This course will examine the historical relationship between science, technology, and empire from the 17th through the 20th century. We will discuss the ways that scientific knowledge was produced in the context of imperial expansion and exploration and how this knowledge was frequently mobilized to materially and discursively sustain empires. Students will investigate the construction of modern science in relation to exploration, national and imperial rivalries, global commerce and industry, and cultural perceptions of colonization and empire.