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Chapter 9 - Clocks

from Part II - Developments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

Adam Hammond
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter focuses on the literary debates provoked by the appearance of mechanical clocks – and “clockworks” more generally – in medieval England. Invented in China in the eighth century, the first European mechanical clocks were manufactured in the early fourteenth century. The contemporaneous literary record shows that clocks did not immediately impose a secular conception of time that regulated human life; instead, the population of medieval Christian Europe continued to reckon time through cycles of light and dark and according to the liturgical calendar. Drawing on readings of Christine de Pizan, Philippe de Mézières, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer, Lightsey argues that clocks were primarily received in the time of their invention as mechanical wonders, and primarily employed as displays of wealth.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Clocks
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.012
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  • Clocks
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.012
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Clocks
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.012
Available formats
×