Call for Papers

The 2016 Cambridge AHRC DTP Conference on

Time and Temporality’

Call for Papers

The Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) invites contributions to the inaugural Annual Cambridge AHRC DTP Conference, which will investigate the place – the moment – of ‘time’ in the arts and humanities. The conference will bring together students from within the current Cambridge AHRC DTP cohort and from partner institutions of international standing to facilitate the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and the development of collaborative networks. The Cambridge AHRC DTP is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK (AHRC) and exists to provide studentships and personal and professional development at PhD level in the following broad AHRC-designated subject domains: history, thought and systems of belief; creative and performing arts; cultures and heritage; languages and literatures. We invite contributions from any of the preceding subject areas, and particularly those with the potential for broad interdisciplinary appeal: for a full list of the relevant disciplines, please see here.


In contemporary scholarship, time is not running out, but rushing in. If, as Richard Feynman once quipped, ‘time is what happens when nothing else does’, how should research in the arts and humanities respond to it? Rather than seeing it as the isolatable base matter of the universe, we might focus our attention on how nothing else happens without time, how it is folded into our various objects of inquiry and critical practices.

For example, the historic debates among anthropologists and linguists about whether cultures such as the Nuer and Hopi are ‘timeless’ (or why they might seem so) speak to the challenges of defining temporality across cultural, historical and disciplinary barriers. But the dangers of erasing these difficulties are just as serious. In 24/7, Jonathan Crary argues that the spread of global capitalism and immediate communication technologies have created ‘a time of indifference’ in which experiences of interruption and revolution, development and fulfilment are vanishing before ‘a principle of continuous functioning’. Yet does such an argument overlook still-to-be-articulated ways in which temporal conventions are being radically reshaped by contemporary subjects and communities, as well as emergent responses to our fragile ecological position, and the fact that we might be living through ‘the end of (our? human?) time’?

We therefore call for papers dealing with ways of imagining and theorising time, methodological issues of working with time, or specific case studies that exemplify the problems and possibilities of time as a concept.

Without wishing to be prescriptive or exhaustive in any way, papers could deal with the ordering of time:

  • Forms of change and continuity: progress, decline, repetition, tradition, revolution and evolution.
  • Divisions of time: work/leisure; childhood/adulthood; past/future; seasons, eras or episodes; geological periodicity.
  • The construction of narrative or chronology.
  • Experience and interpretation of time: speed, slowness and acceleration; the sense of being time-rich or time-poor.

Or could consider temporal practices:

  • Interactions with time: spending, telling, losing, wasting, stopping, queering, saving, redeeming, and frittering away the time.
  • Creative and artistic practices: contemplating, recording, composing, making and story-telling.
  • Entertainment and the use of ‘spare’ time: watching, reading, listening, idling, sleeping and socialising.

Attention is guided towards different theoretical models of time and temporality. These could include:

  • Nietzsche’s idea of eternal recurrence and its development in Derrida or in Heidegger’s Being and Time.
  • Hegelian and Marxist dialectics or Adorno’s negative dialectic and their impact upon understandings of the historical.
  • Foucault’s notion of the archaeology of knowledge, or his discussions of post-modernity and the avant-garde.
  • The concept of the ‘anthropocene’ emerging from the geological and climate sciences.

Papers are also welcomed which consider and/or model the intersections between theory and critical practice, including:

  • Synchronic and diachronic forms of analysis.
  • Schools of historiography, canon formation, scholarly fashions and trends.
  • Phenomenology and hermeneutics.

The above are just a series of prompts, and we look forward to receiving a range of diverse approaches. Proposals will be rewarded for: direct relevance to the conference’s theme of ‘Time and Temporality’, clear relevance to current research contexts, and the potential for wide interdisciplinary interest.

Proposals of no more than 300 words for a 20-minute paper should be submitted electronically to [email protected] by Friday 8th January 2016. They will be reviewed by a selection panel with offers of places on panels returned at the beginning of February.

The conference will be held 14th-16th September 2016 at Peterhouse, Cambridge.