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Temporal Experiments: Literary, Aesthetic and Social Modes of Thinking and Living Time

“Temporal Experiments” is an interdisciplinary research group engaged in an expansive investigation of the interactions between literature, art, temporality, and the social world.  We seek to understand the different roles that practices and conceptions of time play in aesthetic experience and in everyday life.

About the Group

We see time as a central determinant of the ways individuals, groups, and social formations shape themselves and their experiences; our research aims to illuminate different forms of temporal experience and their imbrication with all aspects of social life.

Art, literature, and other modes of temporal comportment not only participate in established temporal rhythms, they test out or experiment with new and alternative constructions of time, rhythm, and social form.  Our research proposes an understanding of literary and visual texts as temporal experiments that explore different ways of thinking, experiencing, and living time. In their experimentation with new modes of constructing time, aesthetic texts also work on their audiences, inculcating in them particular social rhythms, forms of temporal awareness, and embodied habits of mind. These temporal experiments take place both on the level of form and content.

Our research project investigates both contemporary and historical forms of temporality. On the one hand, the project responds to the increasing problems related to time and the regulation of life rhythms in today's society (e.g. time deficit, attention deficit, blurring of the boundary between work life and private life, the rise of a "24/7 society"). On the other hand, the project pursues a historical or genealogical investigation of different forms of thinking and living time.


The research group meets regularly to discuss theoretical readings on time and temporality.  We have so far discussed texts by Antonio Negri, Jonathan Crary, Augustine, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze, Ernst Bloch, Georges Didi-Huberman, Jean-François Lyotard, and a few others. Our next reading seminar, in January 2022, will be on Megan Burke’s book, When Time Warps: The Lived Experience of Gender, Race, and Sexual Violence (2019).

Over the last two years, we have organized workshops related to the group’s book project. The book, which is nearing completion, is entitled Temporal Experiments: Seven Ways of Configuring Time in Art and Literature. It is an edited collection of essays focused on the ways artworks experiment with time and reshape existing temporal configurations.

The book is a critical investigation of the tactile figures in which time is embodied, and of the role these figures play in shaping our sense of the possible. Each chapter pivots on a key temporal figure: event, habit, idleness, kairos, rhythm, ritual, and transit. These figures are explored from an aesthetic vantage point, i.e. from the perspective of specific artworks that put these figures through their paces.  In working through the temporal movements of novels, films, musical recordings, sculpture, and poetry, our book makes the case that artworks offer a privileged site for investigating time in its not-yet-fully assembled state. The book features essays by Christian Refsum, Aron Vinegar, Marit Grøtta, Tina Skouen, Bruce Barnhart, Emma Heggdal, and Per Sigurd Tveitevåg Styve, and is edited by Bruce Barnhart and Marit Grøtta.


Published Dec. 1, 2017 10:18 AM - Last modified Mar. 11, 2022 9:29 AM