LOOKING BACK ON THE END OF TIME:MODERNISM AND BEYOND. Keynote speakers: Randall Stevenson, Bryony Randall


‘Looking Back on the End Time – Modernism and Beyond’, UEA, September 4





                      Foyer of the Elizabeth Fry Building, UEA.


10.15-11.15    WELCOME


                       Gurney Suite, Elizabeth Fry Building.


11.15-11.30   BREAK


11.30-12.45   FIRST SESSION



TREMORS: LOOKING FORWARD – artists and writers who predate modernism.


Dr. Louis Sandowsky, cafedifferance@yahoo.com, The Intertwining of Space and Time.


The 20th Century brought with it a new kind of Copernican revolution in which the Absolute dyads and straight lines depicted in classical astronomy had to give way to a curvier horizon of relativity where time was no longer an Absolute in a fabric that was nothing other than its intrinsic interwovenness with space.

Nineteen hundred and five was an extraordinary epoch-making moment in the history of Western philosophic and scientific discourse on time. It was the year in which Albert Einstein’s introductory papers on the theory of relativity overruled the apparent separation of space and time – pointing to the term ‘spacetime’ – a single word signifying that they are inextricably intertwined.

The year 1905 also saw the first systematic presentation of a working phenomenology of temporality in Edmund Husserl’s lectures on the phenomenology of immanent time (1905 and appendices of 1910) – published in 1928 as The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness. These meticulous investigations of the manifold structures at work in the experience of time demonstrate that spatialization is always already a temporal affair.

Einstein’s objective theory of relativity and Husserl’s phenomenology (which is to say, objective description of how objectivity is given subjectively as an ‘intentional unity’) are elegantly complementary despite the fact that they do not apparently address each other’s stated fields of inquiry. This ‘complementarity’ spans the entire horizon stretched between the limits of what has been expressed in terms of an Absolute subjective-objective ‘divide.’ In these terms, the space between Husserlian phenomenology and Einsteinian cosmology is not so much a rift between disparate dimensions as a fold – a multi-perspectival intertwining through which they are already inclined toward each other in an original relation of entanglement.

It is precisely at this point that Western discourse on time begins to resemble that of the philosophy and mysticsm of the East with respect to the concept of ‘interdependent origination’ or ‘dependent arising’ (pratitya samutpada) – which brings into focus the ‘interdependency’ of space and time.

It is according to this relation of interdependency that I shall examine John-Ellis McTaggart’s 1908 paper “The Unreality of Time” without succumbing to the admittedly seductive urge to get caught up in the real-unreal debate suggested by its provocative title. Strategically, I shall treat any sensational ontological claims as just part of a ruse – pointing to a deeper significance beneath the surface or behind the artifice. I shall demonstrate how McTaggart’s re-appraisal of the question of the reality or the existence of time (by way of his brilliant adaptation of the reductio ad absurdum technique of argumentation) shows, in effect, the re-constructive value of a more phenomenologically-deconstructive approach to questions of temporality.


Dr. Marilyn Pemberton, m.a.pemberton@warwick.ac.uk, E. Nesbit’s Fantasy Tales – The Transformation of Victorian Fairylands to Modernist Feylands.


The different attributes of time – the potential to stop it, slow it down, speed it up, or reverse it – has made time an enduring component of fairy- and fantasy tales. One only has to think of the classic fairy tales such as ‘Sleeping Beauty’, in which time within the castle effectively stops for one-hundred years, such that on awakening the inhabitants continue as if there had been no lapse at all, or Cinderella, in which midnight is the time when the magic stops and harsh reality resumes. In later fantasy tales, starting in the second half of the nineteenth century, the writers take advantage of liminal time – the time experienced in the twilight hours, when what is real merges with what is fantasy, when ghosts and monsters roam, when portals to a magical land are opened.

In this paper I want to focus on some of the fantasy works of E. Nesbit, in which time plays a large and important part. By the start of the twentieth century there was a realisation that humanity was not confidently progressing towards perfection after all, and consequently utopian dreams turned into modernist despair; the Victorian fairyland was no longer a place where writers could secrete their ideologies; they had to find a new location. Nesbit chose to bring the magic into the real world, transforming the Victorian fairylands into what I call modernist feylands. I will explore specifically Five Children and It (1902), The Story of the Amulet (1905) and The Enchanted Castle (1907), all of which utilise different characteristics of time in order to reveal the futility of wishing and the impossibility – even undesirability – of utopia. In Five Children and It Nesbit uses time to constrain and limit the magic, such that dusk, contrary to most fantasy tales, becomes the time when the magic ends and the results of the wishes disappear. In The Story of the Amulet Nesbit reveals her admiration for H. G. Wells and has her protagonists travel backwards and forwards in time searching for the artefact that will reunite their family, and in so doing explore supposedly ideal civilisations. Lastly, in The Enchanted Castle, Nesbit again uses magic limited by time to reveal the undesirability of the fulfilment of wishes and hence that of utopia. 


Jayne Thomas, Cardiff University, thomasjk@cardiff.ac.uk, The Beginning of the End of Time: Stream of Consciousness and the Epiphany in the Early Work of George Moore.


In this paper I intend to look at how George Moore conceptualised and represented the notion of stream of consciousness and epiphany in his early novels. Stream of consciousness and epiphany are literary techniques associated with the free-flowing nature of time, where past, present and future flow interchangeably. These culminate often in moments of illumination which in themselves are a conflation of past, present and future. The techniques are, as is generally known, usually associated with the likes of Virginia Woolf, Joyce and others in the twentieth century, literary inheritors and practitioners of Bergson’s notion of durée. But the technique had its practitioners in the late nineteenth century as well, stimulated perhaps by pre-figurations of Bergson in Walter Pater’s notion of impressions re-forming themselves in a stream in ‘The Conclusion’ to The Renaissance (1865), in David Hume’s concept of the associative, and fluctuating, self, as well as in G.H. Lewes’ conception of the stream of consciousness itself, a concept often wrongly attributed to William James.


By 1890 Moore had begun to successfully experiment with ways of representing human consciousness in a series of early novels, one of which, Vain Fortune, appeared in 1891. Here, experimentation reaches its apogee in the final epiphany of the novel, where the male character stands above his sleeping wife, as the past and future flow into the present, an éclaircissement which was to influence Joyce’s writing of Gabriel Conroy’s famous epiphany at the conclusion of ‘The Dead’ in Dubliners. Moore goes on to use the techniques he developed here in subsequent novels, like The Lake (1905) and The Brook Kerith (1916).


My intention in this paper, then, is to show how stream of consciousness and epiphany are evidenced in Moore’s early works – Vain Fortune and The Lake – and to show how these works amply reflect –as early as 1891 in the case of Vain Fortune – notions of the free-flowing nature of time and its connections to human consciousness. 



SPATIALISING TIME, TEMPORALISING SPACE – new forms of composition and performance


Kate Armond, Univeristy of East Anglia, K.Armond@uea.ac.uk, ‘To Drop Down Eternity Like a Plummet’: Wyndham Lewis’ ‘Enemy of the Stars’ and the Stagecraft of Wassily Kandinsky.


Time and Western Man can be summarised as Lewis’ sustained attack on a modernism in thrall to the time philosophies of Henri Bergson, Samuel Alexander and Alfred North Whitehead.  Whilst Lewis had attended Bergon’s lectures at the Collège de France during his residence in Paris, at the time of writing Blast between 1914 and 1915 any initial admiration had been replaced by contempt – Bergson appears in the Vorticist Manifesto’s list of ‘Blasts’ in June 1914.


In Time and Western Man Lewis reacts to Bergson’s notion of the space-time dichotomy, reinstating a classical preference for formal clarity, and relocating the object of perception within the three dimensional space of a Berkeleyan/Kantian ‘common sense’ reality.  Lewis did not always confine himself to this strategy of inversion, however, and his play Enemy of the Stars offers a practical rather than a theoretical assault on Bergson’s ideas.  This paper will argue that Lewis sought to recreate the space of Kantian reality, and that the techniques he used bear a striking resemblance to those developed by the German Expressionist artist and playwright Wassily Kandinsky.  The work and theoretical writings of this artist offered Lewis the means to go beyond a simple reversal of Bergson’s critique of space, using the principles of abstract composition, whilst further diminishing the role of time within perception and cognition. 


Using Kandinsky’s treatise Uber das Geistige in der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) and his stage play Der Gelbe Klang (Yellow Sound) this paper will question how new forms of composition such as dissonant harmony and an ideal abstract plane may have influenced Lewis’ Enemy of the Stars, and his enigmatic image of the vortex. 


Paul Jackson, Anglia Ruskin University, Paul.Jackson@anglia.ac.uk, ‘…Like a solid shaft of steel…’ –  Time-Space and Time-Form in George Antheil’s ‘Ballet Mécanique’.


George Antheil, the eponymous ‘Bad Boy of Music’, wrote of his ultra-modernist Ballet mécanique (1924) that it represented a unique experiment in time-form, time-space and the fourth dimension of music. Antheil’s inexorable essay in noise was appropriately realised through instruments of his present – mechanically-operated pianos, percussion instruments, airplane propellers and sirens – enabling a level of complexity of temporal organisation hitherto unknown. Antheil’s ideas also gained enthusiastic support from Ezra Pound who, in Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony (1924), argued that music should delineate itself principally by its passage through time, rather than by its ‘state’at any moment in time. In the process, Pound reasserts the notion of the primacy of a predominantly temporally-informed mode of perception: music as a phenomenon existing in time-space, and articulating time-form.

In this illustrated paper I will examine ways in which Ballet mécanique might embody a realisation of these concepts, ‘wherein time functioning in music differs from ordinary time and the series of deductive and also physical phenomena that follow it.’ In Ballet mécanique, the compression and expansion of events within time moments, the metamorphosis of events within a past-present-future paradigm, the utilisation of simultaneous time-series, and the placing of events in time frames that lie beyond the scope of human memory recall, are all enabled through a quasi-computational mode of composition. Whilst the manipulation of sound material in such ways is often the very stuff of music compositional practice, I will argue that the use of machines in Ballet mécanique allowed for the construction of a previously unimagined (and unimaginable) temporally-constructed soundscape. Moreover, the physical limitations of both the human and machine protagonists, imbued as they are with notions of effort in the moment of performance, might lead us to consider a noumenological reading of a work so apparently located in the phenomenological.


Dr. Julia Moszkowicz, Bath Spa University, j.moszkowicz@bathspa.ac.uk, Temporal Engagements in the Space of the Aesthetic: A Consideration of Moholy-Nagy’s Light-Space Modulator.


This paper will demonstrate how Henri Bergson’s understandings of time, space and human subjectivity are utilised both implicitly and explicitly by arts discourse in the 1920s; that is to say, how phenomenology operates as the underlying intellectual foundation of evolving creative practice in the Modern period. In particular, the paper will analyse the work and words of László Moholy-Nagy, an articulate figure whose ‘intuitive’ use of philosophical concepts is representative of a wider community of studio-based practitioners.


The paper will focus on Light-Space Modulator (1930), a kinetic sculptural work that exemplifies Moholy-Nagy’s approach to the production and installation of visual artefacts. It will be argued that Moholy-Nagy’s understanding of the space of the artwork was informed by a distinct set of critical languages circulating within his immediate field; that is to say, by philosophical terms that had gained currency among his peers. Whilst Moholy-Nagy never studied philosophy himself, he was an active participant in discussions that took place in cafes, art schools and intellectual society. It will be shown how these discussions embraced notions of embodied, time-based experience and reconfigured aesthetic spaces in terms of ‘the fourth dimension’: temporality.


In a biography of her husband, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy describes how László never studied philosophy but was nevertheless caught up in the (epistemological) Zeitgeist of his times. She claims that: ‘Moholy had never read Bergson when he made “the unity of art and life” his basic premise … ’ (Moholy-Nagy, S. 1969: xvi). For this reason, the methodological approach of this paper is aligned with a ‘historical materialist’ position, whereby the creative networks, rituals and distinct languages of creative texts and primers are explored. The paper uses the idea of ‘interpretive communities’ – outlined by Stanley Fish in Is There a Text in This Class? (1980) – to support the notion that shared philosophical concepts constitute a common ground between individuals. In this example, the common ground is infused with a physical and emotional intensity, one that is ultimately characterised as phenomenological. Indeed, Moholy-Nagy does not simply have an individual methodology but a shared understanding of arts practice that is rooted in eclectic epistemological traditions; it exceeds an understanding in terms of a Modernist avant garde agenda and demonstrates a tendency towards phenomenological concerns. Indeed, the paper proposes how Moholy-Nagy worked with a phenomenologically inclined Modernity.




DUNNE WITH TIME – writers who have engaged with the work of J. W. Dunne


Dr. Katy Price, Anglia Ruskin University, Katy.Price@anglia.ac.uk , Dreaming the Future – J. W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time.


In his essay collection Man and Time (1964), playwright J.B. Priestley singled out aeronautical engineer J.W. Dunne for having ‘changed, quite dramatically, the climate and atmosphere of speculation about Time, taking it out of the philosophers’ studies and lecture rooms on the one hand, and, on the other hand, out of the shuttered basements of pseudo-mystics, theosophical magicians, and charlatans’. Dunne was, he explained, ‘not a sentimentally poetic character, outraged by the contemporary world. He was a hard-headed military engineering type, whose hobby was not fantastic speculation and juggling with ideas but fly-fishing’.

   Dunne’s theory of serial time, first published in 1927, was accompanied by practical instructions inviting each reader to explore and develop their own capacity for glimpsing the future through dreams. His book An Experiment With Time was at least as influential as the best-selling idealist popular expositions of the new physics by Arthur Eddington and James Jeans which appeared from 1928 onwards. Subsequent editions of An Experiment With Time appeared in 1929 and 1934, and the third edition was reissued regularly throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s (a Papermac came out in 1981).

Besides Priestley’s ‘time plays’, we may identify a range of novelists who explored Dunne’s ‘dream effect’ in fiction: John Buchan, Mary Butts and Arnold Bennett are key examples from the 1930s. Modernist poets T.S. Eliot and William Empson also engaged with Dunne’s theory of serial time.

   This paper explores the appeal of Dunne’s Experiment to readers whose experience of time theorising had increasingly been one of exclusion from the speculation conducted by specialists in physicists and philosophy, a condition accentuated when Einstein’s theory of relativity emerged into the public sphere in 1919. Throughout his book, Dunne gives everyday experiences of reading a key role to play in his exposition of the hidden mental powers that he believes must be ‘vouchsafed to the multitude’, thereby countering the disaffection caused by elite scientific authorities having (so far) failed to grant mass audiences access to Einstein’s fourth dimension.



Adam Winstanley, York University, amw507@york.ac.uk, ‘What sort of a country would be likely to reveal’ – Serial Time in Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’.


From Aldous Huxley to Jorge Luis Borges and beyond, a wide variety of literary modernists and post-modernists have been engrossed by J.W. Dunne’s theories of serial time expounded in An Experiment With Time (1927), The Serial Universe (1934) and Nothing Dies (1940). Renouncing both the classical notion of a ‘single, absolute, one-dimensional Time’ that involved ‘motion in a fourth dimension’, and Henri Bergson’s concept of dureé, Dunne posited his hypothesis that ‘Absolute Time’ was an ‘Infinite Regress’. This regress apparently involved a mathematical series ‘devoid of such mystical characteristics as ‘past’. ‘present’ or ‘future’, which revealed the individual status as a ‘self-conscious observer’. However, it is undoubtedly Dunne’s more fantastical claims, such as his assertion that he had produced the ‘first scientific argument for human immortality’ or that individuals could predict the future by recording images from their dreams, which provoked curiosity from various literary circles. However, this paper shall argue that Dunne’s populist theories of serial time aroused the curiosity of one novelist in particular- Flann O’Brien. This is no surprise when one considers O’Brien’s allusions to Minkowski, Einstein and Eddington in the Irish Times column ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ or his reference to the construction of At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) upon a ‘supra-Bergsonian continuum’. Commentators on O’Brien’s œuvre have repeatedly argued that the figure of the pseudo-philosopher De Selby in his posthumous novel The Third Policeman (1940) represents a clear parody of Dunne and his work. In this paper, my aim is not to add one more contribution to such an approach but rather, to consider the extent to which O’Brien may be said to be deliberately engaging with, and analysing Dunne’s theories. I shall argue that Dunne’s musings in An Experiment With Time had opened a promising field for literary innovation, implicitly inviting literary authors to undertake an ‘analysis of serial time’ that would unveil the ‘sort of a county such an avenue would be likely to reveal’. Dunne had expected ‘novelty’ and O’Brien obliged by ‘tearing up the universe’ in a ‘monstrous comic debaunch’ through his depiction of the ‘queer’ world of the Parish.





13.45-15.00 SECOND SESSION



RUNNING LIKE CLOCKWORKthe mechanisation and rationalisation of time


Anna Burrells, Birmingham University, a.l.burrells@bham.ac.uk, Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence and Henry Green: Modernism and the Rationalisation of Time.


Accounts of modernism’s relation to concepts of time have traditionally focused on Bergsonian notions of flux and duree. From Gertrude Stein’s notion of ‘the time in and of the composition’ to Woolf’s use of ‘moments of being’; duree has become a paradigmatic example of modernism’s relation to concepts of time. Even Wyndham Lewis’s repudiation of the Bergsonian ‘time cult’ in Time and Western Man adds to this sense. Beginning by considering the rationalisation of time by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford I seek to explore a different context for thinking about time in modernity. Both Taylor and Ford are famous for their techniques of organisational management which precisely timed the movements of workers in the modern factory to increase efficiency. This discourse emphasises the notion of ‘clock time’ or controlled, regulated time and articulates a converse sense of time to that of Bergsonian flux; emphasising instead the relations between modernity, industry and mechanisation.

   The reactions of modernist artists and writers to discourses of ‘organisational management’ take divergent courses. Ezra Pound’s little known essay ‘Machine Art’ focuses upon rationalisation as a positive, efficient, and formally elegant measure. Pound imagines a factory where the workers movements are so efficiently timed as to make a symphony of machine noise (clanging hammers and whirring machines at different intervals and pitches). In contrast, both D.H. Lawrence, in Women in Love, and Henry Green, in Living, emphasise the threatening nature of rationalised clock time. For Lawrence the workers are reduced to: ‘Mechanisms…instruments, pure machines, pure wills that work like clockwork.’ At the end of the novel Gudrun, now totally sunk in the mechanised world of Gerald Crich ‘the industrial magnate’, sees the frightening vision of her own face as a clock face. Henry Green’s novel Living thematises the notion of industrial clock time and rationalisation through the metaphor of a factory under new management. Time is punctuated by the scream of sirens summoning the factory workers to clock in. This regulation of movement and time is sopifying:‘he had reached saturation point as day by day, year by year he did very much the same things with almost identical movements of arms and legs.’ The increasing mechanisation of the factory is contrasted with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of those who are trapped within it. This discussion of the literary uses of the organisational management techniques of Ford and Taylor re-contextualises discourses about time in modernism to consider its role within industrial modernity.


David Shackleton, University College London, d.shackleton@ucl.ac.uk, Time in the Filmic Metropolis.


This paper addresses the issue of time in the metropolis as depicted in early films. The principle films discussed are: Karl Grune’s The Street (1923); Alberto Cavalcanti’s Nothing but Time (1926); F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans (1927); Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a City (1927); Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927); and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929). I situate these films within what Mary Ann Doane calls the emergence of ‘cinematic time’.

   The approach of this paper is chronological, and traces the emergence of classical continuity editing through films of the Lumière brothers and D. W. Griffith at Biograph. Once adumbrated, I look at how the above films both embrace and controvert the temporality which emerged with the establishment of classical continuity editing, in order to depict temporal experience in the metropolis. One example of a filmmaker who controverted such editing was Vertov, with his interest in the phi-effect – the stroboscopic nature of cinematic projection – and his aggressive cutting of the intervals between otherwise adjacent shots, creation of collision movement, conflicting graphic forms, and antagonistic angles. More generally, I look at how these various films present experience of the metropolis as an increasingly chaotic, technologically advanced, urban environment.  Montage and rhythm are both used in various ways to convey the ‘onrushing impressions’ of Simmel’s modern metropolis. In Benjaminian terms, the very rapidity of the changing images in film is potentially traumatic for the spectator, and allows the cinema to embody something of the restructuration of modern perception within the metropolis. In examining the ways in which these films present the experience of time in the metropolis, I consider how these presentations contribute to the emergence of a ‘film consciousness’. Conversely, I consider how an emerging cinematic time contributes to how the modern city itself is experienced.


Karen Veitch, Sussex University, k.veitch@sussex.ac.uk, Heat is Par Excellence the Communist of our Universe – Muriel Rukeyser’s Thermodynamics of Socialism.


As a poet working within what Robert Shulman terms the ‘left avant-garde’ of Depression-era America, Muriel Rukeyser drew on scientific ideas in producing poetry which, distinctively, combined the social concerns of proletarian literature with the deployment of contemporary experimental technique.  Unlike contemporary modernist writers such as Joyce and Woolf, who drew on Einsteinian ideas of temporal relativity and the indeterminacy posited by quantum mechanics, Rukeyser looked back specifically to nineteenth-century understandings of thermodynamics to lend scientific validation to her politics of democratic socialism.  Engaging with nineteenth century science as opposed to early twentieth century advances in the ‘new physics’, Rukeyser develops a discursive framework which links the law governing the dissipation of energy to the American ideal of manifest destiny; yet then uses that framework to legitimize her conception of the potential of socialism within the United States.

   Analyzing her collection of poetry “The Book of the Dead” published in U.S. 1 (1938) in relation to her biography of nineteenth century American physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs, this paper will demonstrate that Rukeyser produces a deconstructive poetics that disentangles the Second Law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy) from its long tradition of dystopian readings.  For nineteenth century scientists such as William Thomson and Balfour Stewart, the deterministic implications of the Second Law threatened the operation of industrial capitalism, as the inevitable dissipation of energy leads to a loss of its value as a source of mechanical effect.  In Willard Gibbs (1942), Rukeyser indirectly quotes Stewart’s anxious assertion that “heat is the communist of the universe”.  Transplanting this quotation from its original context, Rukeyser appropriates the analogy as a statement of the latent progressivism of the laws of energy, working as they do to bring about universal equilibration, or physical and economic equality. 

   Furthermore, through her understanding of Gibbs’s work, Rukeyser re-interprets the Second Law as a historical trope which marries ideas of temporal and economic determinism with statistical uncertainty and creative potential.  Ultimately, this paper will show that far from being threatened by the increased cultural authority of science during the early decades of the twentieth century, Rukeyser viewed imaginative acts such as poetry as capable of performing transformations of energy which have the power to shape the course of history and show us “what we might be, and in that might be, what indeed we are”. 



THE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF TIME – subjectivity and temporality


Dr. Meredith Miller, Falmouth University, Meredith.Miller@falmouth.ac.uk, Memory and the Defile of Consciousness – Freud and Narrative Time in the 1890’s.


Though there are significant bodies of work on Freud and narrative, and on narrative and time, there has been, to date, little discussion of Freud’s development of the cathartic method as a temporal intervention in the consideration of human subjectivity. This paper will consider Freud’s eschewal, in the 1890s, of the empirical method (though not the pose) in favour of a mastery of narrative time as a means of containing and defining the human subject. It was during this period that Freud put aside many of the methods and practices of medical science along with the search for a biological aetiology of hysteria.  In place of these, he established a structuralist mastery of life narratives which paradoxically relies on the unstable nature of memory and experienced time. 

Case histories and published essays on method from this period evidence a persistent anxiety about the ‘fictional’ character of psycho-analytic case history narratives.  The case histories read, Freud says self consciously, ‘like short stories.’  In essays such as ‘Civilised Sexual Morality and Modern Nervous Illness,’ Freud employs a progressive structure of time which defines modernity as an historical phenomenon.  At the same time, in the case histories he begins to construct the self as an experienced life history formed around something much more like Bergson’s durée.  It is, in fact, the interrelation between these two experiences of time which characterises what came to be called ‘the modern condition.’  The paper also argues that this interaction drives what we think of as ‘high modernist’ stylistics.  Such stylistics are clearly evident in the case histories, as Freud himself anxiously notes.  We can see, therefore, that the traditional delineation of a narrow cultural space marked high modernist hinders our understanding of the experience of modernity, its driving factors and its relation to notions of the self and its movement through time.

This paper encapsulates a chapter of a forthcoming monograph entitled The Meaning of a Woman: Modernity, Will and Desire.

Mat Foley, Stirling University, m.r.foley@stir.ac.uk, Freudian Time and the Haunting of Woolf’s Protagonists.

In 1925 Freud argued that “the discontinuous method of function of the perceptive system lies at the bottom of the origin of the concept of time” (1950, p.180). This theory of perceptive time postulates that the perceptive system is systematically covered by a protective shield that rhythmically opens-up and encloses consciousness, making it aware and then unaware of external stimuli. The subject has a “self-perception” of this function and Freud believed this self-perception to be at the root of subjective notions of time (Freud 1942, p.32).

Freud’s comments on the experience of time are brief but, more recently, Jean Laplanche has produced a more in-depth conception of how Freudian psychoanalysis can help elucidate notions of what Laplanche terms ‘the time of the living being’ and the ‘time of the individual’ (1993, p.163). Lapalanche argues that the former category encompasses Freud’s model of “an organism, a protozan stretching out feelers towards the external world and hastily withdrawing them as soon they have sampled the excitations coming from it” (ibid, pp.164-165). On the other hand, the ‘time of the individual’ is more concerned with the Freudian coinage Nactraglichkeit or, as has been the English translation, a theory of ‘afterwardness’.

The aim of this paper is to elucidate these psychoanalytical notions of time by reading Woolf. Her work consistently concerns itself with the uncanny discomfort of experiencing subjective time – both in terms of the time of the individual and the living being. Woolf’s works often call upon a phantom word stock, depicting modes of haunting, to express this discomfort. This staging is not wholly conscious of Freud but the fiction of Woolf does play-out, in certain parts, through the motif of haunting, the terror-ridden effect temporality could have over the modernist subject. By understanding this fear of time, in the proposed psychoanalytical framework, we can elucidate the darkness of temporal experience in the work of one of modernisms outstanding writers.


Elsa Högberg, Uppsala University, elsa.hogberg@engelska.uu.se, ‘Heavy with some sediment, time falls’: Subjectivity and Husserlian Time in Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Waves’.


Virginia Woolf’s fiction is centrally preoccupied with the phenomenological relationship between the subjective sphere of a perceiving individual and the “objective” world of the other and outside, a relationship vacillating between conflict and affinity. Subjectivity in Woolf is a quest for inner wholeness fulfilled in moments where the self is perceived as deeply rooted in external reality, as “having,” grasping the world while remaining a part of it. Such moments are woven and unwoven in a continuous “shattering and piecing together” of the self. This tension is central in her novels’ intricate philosophy of time and temporality, particularly as regards the problematization of inner, subjective time as opposed to the “objective” time of clocks and calendars.

      “But Time,” the narrator of Orlando reflects, “though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time.” The passage illustrates the view, elaborated in The Waves, of time and “the mind of man” as inextricably related. Perceiving Woolf’s notion of subjectivity as deeply and inherently temporal, I propose a reading of The Waves in the light of Edmund Husserl’s concept of “internal time consciousness,” the “absolute time-constituting flow” in which internal and external time are not distinct but interwoven. The “stream” at once constitutes and is constituted in subjectivity, flowing through, yet independently of, the subject.

      For Husserl, the temporal consciousness encompassing objective and subjective time has a self-forming function: the stream is the origin of identity as fullness, depth and coherence. This view is, I would argue, problematized rather than illustrated in The Waves. The novel frequently imagines the self as “immeasurable,”  a dynamic, densely woven, ever-expansive unity firmly anchored in time and space. This weave is, however, of a delicate fabric: the characters wage a continuous battle against the ticking of clocks, the inexorable “machinery” of “external” time restricting, in “measuring” and “confining,” the limitless self, breaking its unity and coherence. Woolf, then, explores the limits of the Husserlian conviction that since “at the deepest level of my conscious being I am a flow . . . I remain one and the same being cross the diaspora of time.” In its alternative “shattering and piecing together” of subjectivity as phenomenological epth, continuity and identity in manifolds, the novel thus enacts Husserl’s notion of internal time consciousness all the while presenting a critical revision of it.



ALTERNATIVE TIMELINES – religious and social readings of time


Dr. William Gallois, w.gallois@roehampton.ac.uk, Roehampton University, The Western Discovery of the Unreality of Time.


Was there anything new in western discoveries which pluralised, complicated or rejected time in the fin-de-siècle? Given that empirical and natural ideas of time had been decisively rejected in many non-western and religious cultures well before the end of the nineteenth century, why was the west so slow to adopt more nuanced attitudes towards time? This paper describes a new history of time in which a stunted western modernist idea of time may even now be added to through comparison with and borrowing from anti-empirical Buddhist temporal traditions. It draws on the work of Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth and my book Religion, Time and History (London: Longman, 2007).


Dr. Ahlam Alaki, American University of Kuwait, aalaki@auk.edu.kw, Alem’s ‘My Thousand and One Nights: A Novel of Mecca.


Alem is an enigmatic Saudi writer: modernist, feminist and a whimsical historian. Her story My Thousand & One Nights: a Novel of Mecca (2007) presents a spirit yearning for immortality. Veiled, segregated, and desperate for a purpose, a young woman from Mecca writes letters to a character in The Thousand and One Nights. Immortal geniis and wandering spirits become her companions.

Playing with immortality, Alem not only subverts conventional temporal notions, but challenges Islamic theological taboos of time. Allah said; “I am Time, in My hand is the night and the day.” If God is Time, defying time is blasphemy, and so is presenting a God-figure narrator who transcends place and time. Islam teaches that arts and religion cannot talk to each other about time, because each represents a different “time”. The Koran depicts time as an enigma that only God could decode. The “time” that people are allowed to decipher is judged by the cosmic clock (the moon), that defines the Islamic calendar and religious practices.

The lack of chronological order or plot in Alem’s narrative creates an imaginary world, not a Utopia, but a limbo, where lost civilizations are restored, but only in form. The content is inhabited by newborn phantoms: anarchistic, void, but mesmerizing. Time-travel is woven into the fantastic, a remnant of its pedigree in the Arabian Nights.

Alem portrays an oxymoronic cultural crisis, horrid yet deliciously electrifying, as she reports the transformation of Mecca from medieval to modern: “Not much of a book, you say? Well, wait till you’ve learned how to read it, as I have. Here, let me give you a hint: the circles Jummo made around her words are shields. When you shatter the shields, you have in cracked the containers of time” (4-5).  Writing a century after modernism while capturing key aspects of the movement, Alem proves the futility of defining modernism as a temporal phenomenon and as a pure organic growth of western industrialized societies. Modernism is a complex trans-temporal, trans-spatial experience. Alem’s work proves the existence of a belated “Other” modernism, demonstrating to the experienced eye déjà vu reactions of spiritual dislocation, fragmentation, blasphemy, and rejections of conventional notions, including space and time.


Drs. Nico Marsman, Hanze University Groningen, The Turnover of Time


Throughout the philosophical tradition ”time” has been the centre of an intensive debate. The outcome of that long lasting debate is that one way or another “time” or duration presupposes a conscious human mind. The French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) makes this notion the quintessence of his philosophy. He considers  the heterogeneous reality of qualitative conscious states and changes pivotal of what constitutes  “durée” or duration. These conscious states develop themselves as a succession without making a separation between present and earlier states. They are continual. They, Bergson argues,  penetrate each other mutually, but they still can be differentiated and experienced as qualitative differences.
Although the intuition of duration presupposes continuity, the act of thinking as an unity or synthesis of thought,  as a moment of creation, and as judgement, entails discontinuity. The intellect, according to Bergson, has the tendency to isolate conscious states, but also things and events, quantitatively and  make them discrete and discontinuous by projecting them into a homogeneous space. This change-over from continuous to discontinuous is a moment in time, therefore I would like to contend that sub specie durationis there seems to be a breach that I will call the” turnover of time”.  Reason, in Bergsons view, ‘spatializes’ conscious states and declares them timeless as an almost idealistic point of view. He points out that we have to overcome this intellectual tendency, or at least be aware of it, if we want to think in terms of duration. My argument in short is, that in duration itself the turnover of time is also at work.  A consequence of that argument is, in my opinion, illustrated by Bergson himself in the Introduction part I of the Creative Mind (p. 22-23). Things and events happen at certain dates, but these dates seem to fade away, because we judge them by a deeprooted intellectual principle that all truth is eternal. If the judgement is true now, it seems to us it must always have been so. This illusion leads to a belief in the retrospective value of true judgement, a retrograde movement which truth, once posited, would automatically make in time. Once accomplished, reality then casts its shadow behind it into the indefinitely distant past; it thus seems to have been pre-existent to its own realization, in the form of possible. This harms our perception of the past and from this arises our claim to anticipate the future on every occasion. We even go as far as to predict events in detail.



15.00-15.30     COFFEE BREAK


15.30-15.45THIRD SESSION



MAKING GOOD TIME – revising journey, destination and place


Chris Farnell, chrisfarnell@googlemail.com, Working the Time Machine: Writing Time Travel So It Makes Sense.


H.G. Wells’s time traveller wasn’t the first person in fiction to travel through time. When The Time Machine was published, Ebenezer Scrooge had already visited his own past and future, and Mark Twain’s Yankee had done his best to improve King Arthur’s court. However, Wells was the first to conceive of a vehicle that could travel back and forth in time the way a train travels along tracks. The time machine’s first trip, a journey to the end of life on Earth and back, was a decent test drive, but one has to wonder if Wells knew just what he’d created.


With the invention of controlled time travel, it was possible for a character to go back in time and change the past. Then it was possible for a character to go back and change the past to prevent the character from going back and changing the past. Cause and effect, the building blocks of narrative, were suddenly a lot more flexible than they used to be. For scientists, this sort of paradox is a headache. For the writer, especially the science fiction writer, this is pay dirt.


In this paper I intend to look at the problems, and opportunities, a writer faces when trying to create internally consistent time travel logic. We’ll look at what happens if you do go back in time and kill your grandfather, and how to decide where to start telling your story when the end of the story is what causes the beginning. Using examples from The Time Traveller’s Wife, Behold the Man, the short stories of Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham and Robert A Heinlein, and the movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, among others, we’ll see the different solutions various writers have produced to these problems, and the constrictions these each place on the writer.


Dr. David Addyman, David_Addyman@hotmail.com, ‘As if it were not bunged up on all sides’ – Samuel Beckett, Place and Time.


In the nineteenth century Bergson complained of what he saw as the ‘spatialisation’ of time. He had in a mind a view of time which disregarded its heterogeneous, qualitative aspect, instead treating it as neutral, absolute and homogeneous. However, Bergson’s analogy betrays an attitude towards space which is at odds with his conception of time: implicitly, the only form of space which he recognizes is something homogeneous, quantitative, abstract – inan(imat)e. However, if time ends at the beginning of the twentieth century, something similar happens to this view of space which Bergson tacitly endorses: it too comes to an end (suggesting that Minkowski is justified in claiming that time and space are united). The early twentieth century sees the death of abstract, quantitative and homogeneous space. What appears in place of space is place – an entity which is characterised by a similar heterogeneity or ‘qualitative multiplicity’ to that which Bergson finds in time, and which receives its qualitative – as opposed to quantitative – character from human time: as Gaston Bachelard puts it, ‘[i]n its countless alveoli space contains compressed time.’ The new conception of place is animated by the presence within it of the subject. This means that each individual place is potentially bottomless: Marcel Proust speaks of ‘a doorway teeming with suggestion’, while Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues that ‘there are as many spaces as there are distinct social experiences’; for Bachelard, too, ‘the walls of our dwellings are on vacation’ – there are no limits to place; it is as broad as the subject’s experience. In this rich experience of place, the key to one’s sense of self is to be found. In the work of Samuel Beckett, the focus of this paper, there is an uneasy relationship with this new version of place. On the one hand, he appears to accept the ‘qualitative multiplicity’ of place, but on the other hand, this brings none of the longed-for unity of person and environment. Rather, it is the infinite openness of place which makes the quest for a coherent self in place hopeless. I will first look at Beckett’s 1937 text, Murphy, to examine how all the key topoi of modernist space-time are pointedly rejected and exposed as bankrupt, yet the all-pervading irony offers no other alternative experience of place. I will then go on to look at Texts for Nothing (1952), and analyse how Beckett’s the experience of place deteriorates in his most productive period.


Amanda Dillon, University of East Anglia, A.Dillon@uea.ac.uk,’  ‘Nothing matters except our work’ – Time Travel in Kage Baker’s the Company Novels.


This paper will explore the various ways in which the trope of time-travel has been adapted in a postmodern, cyberpunk context in Kage Baker’s science fiction series The Company.  Whereas much science fiction uses time-travel as a means of freeing its characters, such as in Wells’s The Time Machine and Benford’s Timescape, Baker’s immortal cyborgs are slaves to time.  The cyborgs march forward in time, preserving various aspects of the past for their masters in the year 2355, a company aptly named ‘Dr. Zeus’.  Unlike the modernist concept of time, which suggests a dimension that is fragmentary but possible to overcome and highly maleable, evidenced in time-travel narratives like A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and even Back to the Future, Baker’s postmodern cyberpunk re-visioning of time’s relationship to human beings argues something more subtle: time is an inescapable machine despite its fragmentary nature. 

     The company has stated that there are two rules to time-travel: recorded history cannot be changed, and one cannot time travel forward.  This, as with many of Dr. Zeus’s rules, is only partially true.  As the botanist Mendoza, sent to 150,000 BCE as a punishment, says, ‘As I understand temporal physics, in reality it curves around on itself […].  You can cross from one point of the coil to another rather than plot endlessly forward, if you know how’ (Baker 16).  The freedom to move both forwards and backwards in time, unique to Mendoza alone, is Baker’s most interesting development with regards to time-travel.  Despite this ability, Mendoza remains a deranged cyborg, and she still must move forward towards 2355.  Conquering time has proven completely useless.  Regardless of immortality and the existence of time-travel, Mendoza and her fellow cyborgs are still therefore subject to time even if they have been freed from its traditional constraints.  They slowly move towards the year 2355, human machines part of a larger, completely unknowable machine. As such, these novels are both postmodern and cyberpunk, and this paper will analyse this aspect of the series with reference to its attitude towards the science fiction trope of time-travel, and will highlight the differences between the traditional convention of time-travel and the way it is used in these novels.





Dr. Sarah Davison, Nottingham University, S.Davison@nottingham.ac.uk, ‘This chaffering allincluding most farraginous chronicle’: the multiple chronologies of ‘Oxen of the Sun’.


Scholarship to date on the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ chapter of Ulysses has been guided by the letter James Joyce sent to Frank Budgen, dated 20 March 1920. In this letter Joyce explains that he is writing the chapter in a sustained imitation of English prose styles through history from Anglo-Saxon to the present day. He further comments that the ‘progression’ of English prose style will be ‘linked back at each part subtly with some foregoing episode of the day and, besides this, with the natural stages of development in the embryo and the periods of faunal evolution in general’. Joyce thus adumbrates an outline for a chapter with four parallel chronologies enacting the principle of progressive development: literary history; the narrative present; the nine months of human gestation; and evolution in general. This paper aims to explore how far the letter is an accurate representation of the chapter as it appears in the ‘final’ text of Ulysses (which I take to be the Gabler edition). It uses a genetic critical approach to undercut previous readings that take Joyce at his word that the multiple chronologies of ‘Oxen of the Sun’ are progressive, monumental and linear. Tracing the origins of Joyce’s preparatory notes and correlating these with the final text, this paper will show that, far from delineating progression, ‘Oxen’ rejects straightforward, teleological chronologies and might better be described (to quote from the text) as a ‘chaffering allincluding most farraginous chronicle’; that is an account in which multiple histories are chaotically and continuously present. 


Oren Goldschmidt, Oxford University, oren@andalso.net, Time, Individuality and Community in the Work of Virginia Woolf.


My research investigates how explorations of individuality, community, and interpersonal relations in the work of literary modernists, and in particular in Virginia Woolf’s writing, developed through an engagement with contemporary public intellectuals. Thinkers such as

Olaf Stapledon and Gerald Heard explored community in a range of popular books, articles, and broadcasts aimed at a broad, educated audience. This rich and eclectic mixture of academic and speculative writing is an important but neglected resource for understanding modernist visions of community.

   One aspect of my research looks at the connections between time and community, and this paper will focus on Woolf’s interweaving of time, community, and individuality in her later writing. I will argue that her evocative combination of these apparently disparate ideas can best be understood through her engagement from the early 1930s onwards with a number of public intellectuals whose work shows an equal fascination with the links between time and community.

   In Woolf’s work feelings of community and relationship are repeatedly projected into a timeless realm, while a strong sense of individual identity tends to be associated with an almost unbearably contracted sense of the present. As Louis explains in the Hampton Court passage of The Waves (1931), it is only beyond ‘the lighted strip of history’ and ‘in the abysses of time’ that ‘[o]ur separate drops are dissolved’ (The Waves, 225). Although a number of critics have profitably connected Woolf’s writing with early twentieth-century philosophical debates about the nature and reality of time, in particular the work of Bergson, McTaggart and Russell, it is in the writing of contemporary public intellectuals that Woolf saw the context for her own ‘creative’ and ‘constructive’ vision (Diary V: 68), the background against which felt she must ‘realise [her] own beliefs’ (Diary V: 340). For example, in 1939 Woolf was ‘set […] spinning’ by Gerald Heard’s ‘suggestive’ vision of the role of community in human evolution, Pain, Sex and Time (1939) (Diary V: 243). Heard’s book repeatedly associates the development of a sense of time with the emergence of individuality: ‘Individualized man [in ancient Egypt] is being crystallized out of organic society. […] He discovers that he stands sundered also from past and future on an ever-shrinking moment of time.’ (102). The book offers interesting insights into the themes of Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts (1941), as well being an important parallel for Woolf’s description in her last, uncompleted, book of the historical moment in which ‘[t]he individual emerges’ from an undifferentiated communal life, for the first time becoming ‘the man who is conscious of the past[,] the man who sees his time against a background of the past’ (‘Anon’, ed. Brenda Silver: 385).

   The writing of public intellectuals offers a powerful context in which to read Woolf’s work, one that helps us to understand how the idea of time becomes closely associated with issues such as community and identity which are central to her oeuvre. It also presents an opportunity to explore the ways in which Woolf’s engagement with these thinkers helped her to develop her own ethical vision centred on community: an act of ‘immensely careful planning’ that encompassed her fiction and her discursive writing (Diary V: 68).


Niklas Salmose, Edinburgh University, niklas@trolltrumma.se, The Use of Textual Memory in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’.


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) is, and has, generally been considered a nostalgic novel, in the way it both explores individual private nostalgia through Gatsby’s longing for the past and a wider more collective desire for the past virginal dreams of a New World. Fitzgerald’s fascination of nostalgia is shown in his notebooks and earlier fiction, but is in reality an interest shared by many of the modernists as a reaction to the unprecedented changes in time concepts through industrialization, idea of progress, migration and the explorations of temporality by Kant, and later Bergson. Not to mention Freud’s influence on modernism’s ideas of consciousness and focalization.

   These changes did not only alter the content and themes of modernism, but also narrative strategies themselves. My paper is set out to explore how Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby uses primarily the narrative strategy of textual memory to reinforce the thematic content of his novel. In dividing his novel in two distinct parts, that are separated through a variety of stylistic devices, and deploying a changeable prose that either creates a strong presence full of impressions, or a more reflective, distant style, he controls the reader’s nostalgic reading experience. Simply, as we progress through the narrative of Gatsby, we are first enhanced by the style which creates an enlarged textual memory, that we will later miss and therefore desire and long for. The summer prose of the first part seduces us, by connecting the story to our own subjective memories of past nostalgic dreams. Then: enter autumn. In the second part we are constantly reminded, through repetitions of themes and motifs, although somewhat changed, of the first part. But all the gaiety and spontaneity of early summer has been replaced by human failure, tragedy and dissolution; in short a party and its hangover.

   When we speak of The Great Gatsby as a novel about nostalgia, we refer to its thematic content. But we might also call it, borrowing the analogy from Paul Ricœur, a nostalgic novel in the way its form and style provokes a nostalgic reading experience.






18.00-19.30  PLENARY SESSION

This discussion will take place in a less formal setting so that delegates can feel free to leave for trains/buses etc.




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