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If the deepest secrets are those that go unnoticed, then time is perhaps our most immediate and pressing mystery. By structuring our memory and lending a sense of direction to life, time gives meaning to existence. We often see time as a linear measure of change, but this definition fails to capture the feeling of time, the dynamics of natural cycles, and the ways in which human consciousness sweeps from past to future and back again. We treat time as a commodity—something to trade, exploit, manipulate, and accumulate—yet humans are embedded in many temporalities: the slowness of plants and seeds, the eons of nuclear waste, the urgency of climate change, the impatience of social injustice, and the slow-burning pain of hope. Time shapes our world and our selves, but what shapes time? Is it a natural force or a human construct? To the extent that we construct our experience of time, it is malleable, aesthetic, and artistic. Yet as a basis for social organization time is unequally distributed in life spans, prison sentences, and the availability of leisure.

The 2019-20 Altman Program invites faculty, students, alumni, and the public to explore the multiplicity of time and our experience of it. How do clock and calendar time relate to natural cycles and lived experience? How has the human sense of temporality changed historically in response to social, economic, political, technical, and cultural forces?  How do the arts and literature express, modify, and conceptualize the complexity of time?  What are the pleasures and pains of time? To the extent that time is a human experience, how might the humanities be positioned to release or create its meanings?  In an era of emphasis on spatial representation and big data, can renewed attention to temporality help us reframe our experience, our world, and the challenges we face?

Distinguished Lectures

woman in front of clocks
Jonathan Crary
Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University

Resetting the Clocks in a 24/7 World

September 12, 2019 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
coffee cup beside a book
Jack Halberstam
Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Columbia University

Coffee and Conversation, with Jack Halberstam

October 10, 2019 2:45 PM
Armstrong Student Center, Wiikiaamia Room 2042
side view of old white house
Jack Halberstam
Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

After All: On Dereliction and Destitution Copy

October 10, 2019 5:00 PM
Shriver Center, Heritage Room
Marcia Bjornerud
Professor of Environmental Studies and Geology, Lawrence University

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

October 24, 2019 5:00 PM
Shriver Center, Heritage Room
Altman signature image
Matthew Burtner
Department of Music, University of Virginia

Auksalaq: A Climate Change Opera, with Composer’s Talk on 'Musical Temporalities of Climate Change'

November 4, 2019 7:30 PM
Hall Auditorium
signature altman image
Jenann Ismael
Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Time and the Visual Imagination: From Physics to Philosophy

November 21, 2019 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
multicolored oil paint mixed together
Pheng Cheah
Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Diasporic Worldliness in Postcolonial Globalization

February 27, 2020 5:00 PM
Donald W. Fritz Pavilion C, Armstrong Student Center
Altman signature image
Michelle M. Wright
Professor of English, Emory University

POSTPONED: Race and Temporality: From Newtonian Blackness to Quantum Diasporic Spacetimes

March 12, 2020 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Altman signature image
Lisa Baraitser
Professor of Psychosocial Theory, Birkbeck, University of London

POSTPONED: Enduring Time: On Waiting, Care, and Crisis

April 2, 2020 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Altman signature image
Lauren Berlant
Professor of English, University of Chicago

CANCELLED: Stalking Time

April 16, 2020 5:00 PM
Shideler Hall 152
bullet going through an apple
Jay Lampert
Professor of Philosophy, Duquesne University


April 30, 2020 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
altman image
2019-2020 Geoffrion Undergraduate Fellows

COVID Temporality: The 2019-2020 Geoffrion Family Fellows Symposium

May 1, 2020 10:00 AM
line drawing of a man looking at a globe
Vincent Bruyére
Associate Professor of French, Emory University

CANCELLED: Melting Time, Volatile Pasts, and Vaporous History

May 1, 2020 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center

2019-20 Altman Fellows

Elaine Miller

Elaine Miller, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, studies and teaches nineteenth-century German philosophy and contemporary European feminist theory, particularly aesthetics and the philosophy of nature. Her books include Head Cases: Julia Kristeva on Philosophy and Art in Depressed Times (Columbia, 2014), The Vegetative Soul: From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine (SUNY, 2002), and an edited collection, Returning to Irigaray: Feminist Philosophy, Politics, and the Question of Unity (SUNY, 2006). She has also published numerous articles in journals including Idealistic Studies, The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Oxford Literary Review.

Jonathan Strauss

Jonathan Strauss, Professor and Chair of French, specializes in literature and culture from 1800 to the present and focusing on issues of subjectivity, mortality, and life. He is the author of Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel, and the Modern Self (Stanford, 1998), Human Remains: Medicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Fordham, 2012), and Private Lives, Public Deaths: Antigone and the Invention of Individuality (Fordham, 2013). He has also edited a volume of diacritics (Post-Mortem: The State of Death as a Modern Construct, fall 2000) and was a recent fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities. He is currently completing a book on the relations between literary language and the structuring of collective time.

2019-20 Altman Graduate Fellows

Erica Bigelow

Erica Bigelow is a master’s student in philosophy. She received her B.A. in philosophy with minors in English and political science from Stonehill College. Her research interests include feminist and queer theory, contemporary political philosophy, social activism, and the philosophy of literature.

Pierre Borlée

Pierre Borlée, a master’s student in French. He also holds a master’s degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. His primary research interests are the cultural and political history of contemporary French society and its reflection in literature.

2019-20 Geoffrion Family Fellows

Emily Brady

Emily Brady is a senior honors student studying mathematics and statistics with minors in actuarial science and history. She has been President of Stage Left and Scholarship Chair for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. Her research interests include history education and historical conceptions of time.

Sydney Chuen

Sydney Chuen is a senior honors student majoring in international studies, French, and global and intercultural studies, with minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She has conducted independent research in France and Morocco, participated in Miami’s Undergraduate Research Forum, and published a paper on human trafficking in Europe. Her research interests include migration and diaspora, conflict and terrorism, and language politics.

Avery Comar

Avery Comar is a senior majoring in history and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, with a minor in political science. As a Dean’s Scholar and a member of the history honors program, her research on the early Soviet Union explores the manipulation of time for political ends.

Tavis Enderle

Tavis Enderle is a senior philosophy major with a minor in German. His research interests include self-consciousness, German idealism, New Realism, and the speculative turn in continental philosophy. Before arriving at Miami University in 2017, he was an electrical designer in the mining industry.

Diana Kate Karsanow

Diana Kate Karsanow is a senior majoring in art and architecture history and arts management. A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar and Undergraduate Associate, her research interests include global architecture history, African art history, and early twentieth-century colonial photography. She has published research on the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Lomé, Togo.

Henry Roach

Henry Roach is a junior honors student with majors in philosophy and English literature and a minor in women's, gender, and sexuality studies. A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar, his research interests include historicism, feminist theory, the attribution of responsibility, and the philosophy of action.

2019-20 Altman Scholars

Madelyn Detloff

Madelyn Detloff is Professor and Chair of English and Professor of Global and Intercultural Studies. She is the author of The Value of Virginia Woolf (Cambridge, 2016) and The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 2009) and co-editor (with Brenda Helt) of Queer Bloomsbury (Edinburgh, 2016) and (with Diana Royer) of Virginia Woolf: Art, Education, and Internationalism (Clemson, 2008). She has published essays in journals including Hypatia, Women’s Studies, ELN, Literature Compass, Feminist Modernist Studies, and Modernism/modernity. She is currently writing a book provisionally titled "Lessons from the Belly of the Beast: Negotiating Ambivalence in the Neoliberal Leviathan."

Erin E. Edwards

Erin E. Edwards is Associate Professor of English. Her work explores the intersections among modernism, posthumanism, death studies, ecocriticism, and technical media. She is the author of The Modernist Corpse: Posthumanism and the Posthumous (Minnesota 2018). She is currently working on a book on the possible futures of death in speculative fiction, visual art, digital culture, and contemporary alternative death movements.

Elisabeth Hodges

Elisabeth Hodges, Associate Professor of French, studies French literature and contemporary film with a focus on materiality and the senses in the digital world. She is the author of Urban Poetics in the French Renaissance (Ashgate, 2008) and numerous essays on space and subjectivity in Renaissance literature. Her recent publications include articles on retrospection in Godard’s JLG/JLG and memory in the television series The Wire. Her current book project examines the concept of drift as it relates to cinematic time in contemporary art film.

Mariana Ivanova

Mariana Ivanova, Assistant Professor of German, studies the connections between central and eastern European cinema, transnational theory, and ways of remembering the Holocaust. She is the author of Cinema of Collaboration: DEFA Co-Productions and International Exchange in Cold War Europe (Berghahn, 2019). Her published articles explore the 1920s “Film Europe” movement, German producers and cultural mediators of the 1950s, German-French film co-productions, and state socialism in contemporary cinema. Her current book project focuses on reclaiming the producer as a key figure in postwar European cinema. In addition to her scholarly publications, she is also the creator of several short documentaries about eastern European filmmakers.

Nicholas Money

Nicholas Money is Professor of Botany and Director of the Western Program for Individualized Studies. He specializes in the field of fungal biology and is the author of numerous scientific articles and ten popular science books that celebrate the microbial world. These include, Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard (Oxford, 2002), The Amoeba in the Room (Oxford, 2014), and The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization (Oxford, 2018). He is also the author of a historical novel, The Mycologist (Wooster, 2017). He is currently writing a pair of books on the nature of life and the coming collapse of the biosphere.

Ann Wainscott

Ann Wainscott, Associate Professor of Political Science, is the author of Bureaucratizing Islam: Morocco and the War on Terror (Cambridge, 2017) and essays in Politics and Religion and the Journal of North African Studies. She has served as Luce Fellow in Religion and International Affairs at the American Academy of Religion and as Smith Richardson Foundation Strategy and Policy Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. Her current work, supported by the Global Research on Religion Initiative, examines the influence of religion ministries on authoritarianism in Arab monarchies.