Shaping the Day

Shaping the Day : A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800

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Timekeeping is an essential activity in the modern world, and we take it for granted that our lives are shaped by the hours of the day. Yet what seems so ordinary today is actually the extraordinary outcome of centuries of technical innovation and circulation of ideas about time.

Shaping the Day is a pathbreaking study of the practice of timekeeping in England and Wales between 1300 and 1800. Drawing on many unique historical sources, ranging from personal diaries to housekeeping manuals, Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift illustrate how a particular kind of common sense about time came into being, and how it developed during this period.

Many remarkable figures make their appearance, ranging from the well-known, such as Edmund Halley, Samuel Pepys, and John Harrison, who solved the problem of longitude, to less familiar characters, including sailors, gamblers, and burglars.

Overturning many common perceptions of the past-for example, that clock time and the industrial revolution were intimately related-this unique historical study will engage all readers interested in how 'telling the time' has come to dominate our way of life.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 163 x 240 x 28mm | 968g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8pp plates, 53 in-text illustrations
  • 0199278202
  • 9780199278206
  • 1,469,835

Table of contents

List of Figures ; List of Plates ; List of Tables ; 1. Introduction: The Measured Heart ; 2. Clocks, Clock-times, and Social Change ; 3. "Not Everyone Occupies the Same Now": Reconceptualising Clock Times ; 4. Clock-times in Medieval and Early Modern Bristol ; 5. Temporal Infrasturcture: The Provision of Clock-Time in England ; 6. Clock-times in Everyday Lives ; 7. Precision in Everyday Lives ; 8. "Posted Within Shot of the Grave": Temporal Practices Among Seafarers ; 9. The Pursuit of Precision ; 10. "Clocks from Nowhere"? John Harrison in Context ; 11. Some Concluding Remarks ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

The great achievement of Glennie and Thrift's work is that it provides us with a much richer and fuller history of timekeeping in England and Wales from the late medieval period to the advent of 'modernity' than has hithero existed. * William Gallois, Nuncius * This meaty and informative study fruitfully revises the existing history of timekeeping * Penelope J. Corfield, American Historical Review * An obligatory read for historical geographers...historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and students of the humanities. We can summarize: stimulating and provocative? Indubitably, yes. Informative? Massively, both theoretically and in the empirical chapters. Timely? Not before time, not a moment too soon, on time...essential. * Dave A. Postles, H-Net Reviews * The book is full of thought-provoking evidence that will prove useful to historians and historical geographers pursuing a wide range of social and cultural enquiries...accessible and engagingly written. * Mark Brayshay, Journal of Historical Geography * A rigorously researched, ambitiously conceived, and richly detailed study of the practice of timekeeping - its origins, dynamics, and impact - set in a broad social and cultural context...a stunning achievement, with major implications for our understanding of technological innovation and the role of timekeeping in early modern Britain. * A. Roger Ekirch, Journal of British Studies * [A] scrupulously researched...[and] impressive volume * Ian Pindar, The Guardian * [The authors'] approach is sophisticated and refreshing. * David Rooney, History Today * There is a great deal of interest in this book, and many thought-provoking questions posed ... a provocative new look at timekeeping. * Horological Journal *
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About Paul Glennie

Dr Paul Glennie is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Bristol

Professor Nigel Thrift is currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, an Emeritus Professor of the University of Bristol and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.

One of the world's leading human geographers and social scientists, Professor Thrift has, during his academic career, been the recipient of a number of distinguished academic awards, including the Royal Geographical Society Victoria Medal for contributions to geographic research in 2003 and Distinguished Scholarship Honors from the Association of American Geographers in 2007. He is an Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, was made a Fellow of the British
Academy in 2003, was in the top five of the most-cited geographers in the world from 1988 to 2002, and is co-author, author or co-editor of over 35 books.
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