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Clocking On: Professor Emma Griffin explores the history of our relationship with time

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Prof Emma Griffin

Former Mid-career Fellow Professor Emma Griffin will present a BBC Radio 4 documentary following her British Academy-funded research on everyday life in Victorian Britain.

In Clocking On, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 today, Professor Griffin explores the history of our relationship with time and how, during the Industrial Revolution, workers became more influenced by the clock. She also looks at how new concepts and technologies altered the human experience of work and rest.

Speaking about the impact of her British Academy research award, Professor Griffin said:
“The Mid-career Fellowship gave me time to think about what I really wanted to say about Victorian Britain.  I had already collected quite a lot of material, but I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.  A year’s uninterrupted research time allowed me to read through what I had and just think about it. 

From that grew my appreciation of some of the fundamental ways in which everyday life changed over the nineteenth century.  The Radio 4 documentary features one element of this – the ways in which clock based time became more important, and began to replace older conceptions of time based around the seasons and daylight hours.”

She continued:
“Presenting ideas on the radio always involves some simplification - no footnotes allowed!  Making the programme was also an exploratory process, as it gave us the opportunity to speak to people outside universities who wouldn't ordinarily be that easy to contact, and inevitably the outcome of these conversations was quite unpredictable.”

Professor Griffin is a Professor in the School of History at the University of East Anglia. She completed her Mid-career Fellowship in 2016 and was previously a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow.

Clocking On is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 30 May at 4pm.

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