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  • Monday, October 24, 2022 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

We will be welcoming Elly Truitt (Penn) for a talk entitled “Why Are Clocks?” Elly writes:
Monumental astronomical clocks appeared at the turn of the fourteenth century and then proliferated rapidly across Latin Christendom over the next two hundred years. What moved people to design, fund, build, and re-build monumental astronomical clocks in the late medieval period? And why did these gigantic, complicated, expensive machines take the form that they did? I propose reading these clocks as texts that visualize and represent Christian universality and unite past, present, and future into a Christian narrative. Furthermore, I argue that clocks proliferated because they surpassed the codex and the scroll in the ability to combine multiple timelines into a coherent, integrated whole.

Elly R. Truitt is associate professor in the History and Sociology of Science Department at Penn, which she joined in 2020. Her first book, Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art, was published by Penn Press in 2015. She is currently at work finishing her second book, Marvelous Inventions: Roger Bacon, the Middle Ages, and the Making of Modern Science, when not thinking about clocks.