University of Colorado at Boulder CU-Boulder Home CU-Boulder Search CU-Boulder A to Z Campus Map

Seminar Topic for 1999-2000: "Rethinking Time"

The Center for Humanities and the Arts is pleased to announce that its theme for the 1999-2000 academic year will be "Rethinking Time." In conjunction with this theme, the Center will conduct a year-long faculty and graduate student seminar, host a series of lectures, and hold a Spring Colloquium. We invite all members of the CU community to join in a broad, interdisciplinary conversation focused on the ways we construct and use our notions of time.

With the millennial year of 2000 fast approaching, we want to slow down and to think--or rather, rethink-- about time. As the debates over whether or not January 1, 2000 marks the beginning of a new millennium suggest, time, while one of the most obvious features of everyday life, is also a problem, a question. Time--as the key conceptual frame for history, as a perennial philosophical question, as a subject of poetry, as tied to the very medium of artistic performance--is an issue that has evoked responses across the humanities and the arts. We believe that time will provide us with an important area of inquiry that can be engaged from a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.

Rather than offer here a brief history of time, we provide a list of possible issues that could be raised by the work of the seminar. This list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive or exclusive.

  • What is the difference between the way different disciplines consider time? Does time mean the same thing when we discuss historical time, geological time, cosmic time?
  • How is time constructed in different historical times?
  • How is time conceived by different cultures? Different groups within the same culture?
  • What is the impact of notions of period and periodicity upon our understanding of the arts and humanities?
  • How do we organize time? Do we have a sense of beginning and end or do we simply live in the midst of time?
  • How do millennial years and other comparable chronological events affect our sense of lived time or historical time?
  • How do we think about notions of timelessness? of eternity?
  • How do we think about psychological time? lived time?
  • How does memory--its tricks and powers--affect our sense of time.
  • How do particular formulations of cultural time--for example, the Middle Ages or Modernity--affect our understanding of cultural history and particular cultural objects.
  • How do we think about the competing demands--intellectual, ethical, aesthetic--of the present, the past, and the future? What are the uses and abuses of historical thinking?
  • How do we tell time? What impact do technological changes have on our concepts of time?


  • Claire Farago: Associate Professor, Department of Fine Arts
  • Lee Chambers-Schiller: Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Rebecca French: Associate Professor, School of Law
  • Alan Lester: Instructor and Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Keith Waters: Assistant Professor, College of Music
  • Michael Fitch: PhD Candidate, Department of English
  • Shari Fox: PhD Candidate, Department of Geography
  • Priya Jha: PhD Candidate, Department of Comparative Literature
  • Mick Khoo: MA Candidate, Department of Anthropology
  • Michelle Spencer: MFA Candidate, Department of Fine Arts

Colloquium Program:

Thursday, March 2

1:00 Opening of the Colloquium: Jeffrey N. Cox, Director, CHA Welcome:
Peter Spear, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

1:15 Panel 1: Time and Place
Chair: Dennis McGilvray (CU-Boulder)
Dana Leibsohn (Smith College), "The Sway of the World: Time and Belonging in Colonial Mexico"
Shari Fox (CU-Boulder), "Uvvatiaru: Time and the Inuit"
Mick Khoo (CU-Boulder), "Tourism as Time Travel"
Priya Jha (CU-Boulder), "Spectacular Nationalisms:
Freezing the Past, Freezing the Future, and Creating a History of the Present"

3:00 Break

3:30 Panel 2: History and Time
Chair: Philip Deloria (CU-Boulder)
Claire Farago (CU-Boulder), "How Historians Tell time: A Short Story About Cultural Memory"
Lee Chambers-Schiller (CU-Boulder), "August 6, 1945--the Day that Time Stood Still . . . or Not: Time and America's Nuclear Narrative"
Viviane Namaste (University of Quebec), "Work and Time: The Role of Labour in an Oral History of Montreal's Transsexual Communities"

5:00 First Keynote Address: Dominick LaCapra (Cornell U)

"Writing History, Writing Trauma"
Introduction: Paul Gordon (CU-Boulder)


February 26-March 2: Photo exhibit by Karen Evenson
"Time Pieces: Birds, Butterflies, and Fishes; Metaphors for Timeless Afterlives"
Open to the public in the display space across from Special Collections, Norlin Library 345

Friday, March 3

9:00 Panel 3: Theorizing Time
Chair: Merrill Lessley (CU-Boulder)
Alan Lester (CU-Boulder), "Geology, History, and the Age of Earth: It's About Time"
Michael Fitch (CU-Boulder), "Time's Arrows, Time's Subject: Mapping, Discipline, Control"
Ursula Heise (Columbia U), "The Seventh Generation: Technology, Ecology and Time"

10:30 Break

11:00 Second Keynote Address: Catherine Gallagher (U of California, Berkeley) "Undoing: Time Travel, Counterfactuals, and Affirmative Action"
Introduction: Sue Zemka (CU-Boulder)

Lunch on your own

2:00 Panel 4: Performing Time
Chair: Janice Peck (CU-Boulder)
Keith Waters (CU-Boulder), "Temporal Structure in Jazz Music; or, The Myth of the Eternal Return"
Rebecca French (CU-Boulder), "Law and Time"
Michelle Spencer (CU-Boulder),"Godel: Proof and Fashion"

3:30 Break

4:00 Third Keynote Address:Jonathan Kramer (Columbia U), "Time and the Postmodern Composer"
Introduction: Steven Bruns (CU-Boulder)

There will also be a performance of Jonathan Kramer's works:

for Clarinet, Violin and Piano:
Daniel Silver, clarinet
Jennifer John, violin
Andrew Cooperstock, piano

("WHIRLED PIECE") (1997):
Deborah Bradley, piano

Alexa Still, flute, alto flute and piccolo
Daniel Silver, clarinet and bass clarinet
Jennifer John, violin
Erika Eckert, viola
Judith Glyde, cello
David Shuey, piano

Saturday, March 4, 9:30 am: "Black Holes and Relativity"
CU Planetarium