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Time on the Pulse: Affective Encounters with the Wristwatch in the Literature of Modernism and the First World War

Time on the Pulse: Affective Encounters with the Wristwatch in the Literature of Modernism and... <jats:p> Time is a constitutive feature of modernism, which developed in a period when the stability of the self was disintegrating. This paper considers the link between modernist temporality and affect by looking at the wristwatch, the first timepiece worn on the body. I focus on its emergence in World War One and go on to discuss two encounters with the timepiece in Siegfried Sassoon's ‘Attack’ (1918) and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927). In these texts the figure of the conflation of wristwatch/ticking and wrist/pulse articulates a loss of individual mobility and agency in the modern world. The wristwatch symbolizes the way in which oppressive systems of time were lived and internalized. Situated at the crossroads of affect studies, object studies, and the study of modernist time, my argument posits that the object informed an understanding of temporality in corporeal terms. Because of that focus on affect, the wristwatch suggests how the First World War may be seen as a vital part of the modernist timescape. </jats:p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Time on the Pulse: Affective Encounters with the Wristwatch in the Literature of Modernism and the First World War

Modernist Cultures , Volume 11 (2): 161 – Jul 1, 2016

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2016
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2016.0133
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

<jats:p> Time is a constitutive feature of modernism, which developed in a period when the stability of the self was disintegrating. This paper considers the link between modernist temporality and affect by looking at the wristwatch, the first timepiece worn on the body. I focus on its emergence in World War One and go on to discuss two encounters with the timepiece in Siegfried Sassoon's ‘Attack’ (1918) and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927). In these texts the figure of the conflation of wristwatch/ticking and wrist/pulse articulates a loss of individual mobility and agency in the modern world. The wristwatch symbolizes the way in which oppressive systems of time were lived and internalized. Situated at the crossroads of affect studies, object studies, and the study of modernist time, my argument posits that the object informed an understanding of temporality in corporeal terms. Because of that focus on affect, the wristwatch suggests how the First World War may be seen as a vital part of the modernist timescape. </jats:p>

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Jul 1, 2016

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