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Robert Lawrence Gunn
University of Texas, El Paso (El Paso, TX 79968-8900)
Literature, Timekeeping, and the Production of Space in Early Western North America

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on how European and Native inhabitants of the American West kept track of time during the 17th to 19th centuries.

In case studies spanning from the 17th to the 19th centuries, American Horologics examines the relationship of multiple time-keeping practices to literary and storytelling form in the context of a shifting tableau of encounter and conflict between Indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. peoples in the western North American borderlands. Throughout, I argue that changing technologies of time-keeping and differing standards of temporal experience organized competing regional conceptions of western spaces and of the peoples who inhabited them. While scholars have explored the social, economic, and cultural transformation that the standardization of time and synchronized time-keeping brought about in the latter half of the 19th Century, little attention has been paid to local, culturally-specific forms of nonstandardized time orientation and their relation to imaginary projections of national space across the contested geographies of the American west prior to the U.S./Mexico War.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019