I am PhD candidate in American Studies at Harvard University. I’m trained mainly in American Literature and American Art History, but I like to call myself a chronocritic, because my dissertation has pushed me into something of an obsession with the nature of time. This has compelled me to branch out widely into posthumanism, anthropocene Studies, environmentalism, ecocriticism, and the larger history of science. My interest in time probably derives from my own sense of mortality, or the very real but not yet cataloged (I await the DSM-VI) temporal mental illness known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). For me, Time Studies is simultaneously a passion, an academic pursuit, and a therapeutic pastime. I believe that what individuals assume as their operating temporal metaphor fundamentally shapes their world view, how they treat people around them, how they treat the world around them, in a word, their ethics, and that these metaphors are often overlooked and underexamined.
My dissertation research proposes a new category of monumentality, the “future monument.” Unlike most monuments, which ask us to remember the past, future monuments are built explicitly to manifest an imagination of the future. I focus on three different monuments spanning the twentieth century, specifically the 1939 World’s Fair, the NASA Voyager Golden Record, and the 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now Foundation. These temporally strange monuments offer perspective on changing American cultural values and anxieties across the century, as well as both eco- and chronocritical analysis. They show how imagined futures, even if never realized, still put pressure the present. Through this research, I hope to help shape the larger emerging field of time studies and show the many ways that assumptions and metaphors of time tremendously impact how people treat each other and the world around them. In the words of Arthur C. Clarke:
“The future isn’t what it used to be.”