Critical Time Studies

Sharma cover image, 5477-2The world is getting faster. This sentiment is proclaimed so often that it is taken for granted, rarely questioned or examined by those who celebrate the notion of an accelerated culture or by those who decry it. In In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics, Sarah Sharma engages with that assumption in this sophisticated critical inquiry into the temporalities of everyday life. Sharma conducted ethnographic research among individuals whose jobs or avocations involve a persistent focus on time: taxi drivers, frequent-flyer business travelers, corporate yoga instructors, devotees of the slow-food and slow-living movements. Based on that research, she develops the concept of “power-chronography” to make visible the entangled and uneven politics of temporality. Focusing on how people’s different relationships to labor configure their experience of time, she argues that both “speed up” and “slow down” often function as a form of biopolitical social control necessary to contemporary global capitalism.

978-0-8223-4804-7Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories is a powerful argument that temporal and sexual dissonance are intertwined, and that the writing of history can be both embodied and erotic. Challenging queer theory’s recent emphasis on loss and trauma, Elizabeth Freeman foregrounds bodily pleasure in the experience and representation of time as she interprets an eclectic archive of queer literature, film, video, and art. She examines work by visual artists who emerged in a commodified, “postfeminist,” and “postgay” world. Yet they do not fully accept the dissipation of political and critical power implied by the idea that various political and social battles have been won and are now consigned to the past. By privileging temporal gaps and narrative detours in their work, these artists suggest ways of putting the past into meaningful, transformative relation with the present. Such “queer asynchronies” provide opportunities for rethinking historical consciousness in erotic terms, thereby countering the methods of traditional and Marxist historiography. Central to Freeman’s argument are the concepts of chrononormativity, the use of time to organize individual human bodies toward maximum productivity; temporal drag, the visceral pull of the past on the supposedly revolutionary present; and erotohistoriography, the conscious use of the body as a channel for and means of understanding the past. Time Binds emphasizes the critique of temporality and history as crucial to queer politics.

Time Travels:978-0-8223-3566-5 Feminism, Nature, Power brings feminist theorist Elizabeth Grosz’s trailblazing essays together to show how reconceptualizing temporality transforms and revitalizes key scholarly and political projects. In these essays, Grosz demonstrates how imagining different relations between the past, present, and future alters understandings of social and scientific projects ranging from theories of justice to evolutionary biology, and she explores the radical implications of the reordering of these projects for feminist, queer, and critical race theories.

ddngc_42_2_125In a recent issue of New German Critique, “Figuring Lateness in Modern German Culture,” volume 42 and issue 1, contributors address the interrelated ideas of lateness, belatedness, anachronism, untimeliness, old age, and “late style.” This issue understands lateness more broadly as a category that speaks to a number of debates which have played an important role in twentieth-century Germany, including demographic change, important historical caesurae, generations, and memory. Additionally, the issue contributes to contemporary discussions of “afterness,” “end times,” spectrality, and post-apocalypse. Browse the table-of-contents here.

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