CIDRAL Public Lecture: Elizabeth Stephens (Queensland): The Optimised Self: A Brief History of Time Management and the Quantified Body
|Dates:||8 October 2019|
|Times:||17:00 - 19:00|
|What is it:||Lecture|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
|Who is it for:||University staff, External researchers, Adults, Current University students, General public, Post 16|
This event is part of CIDRAL's Work, Leisure, Culture strand.
Elizabeth Stephens (University of Queensland) will deliver a public lecture entitled 'The Optimised Self: A Brief History of Time Management and the Quantified Body'.
The history of time management, as it is understood and practised in the present day, has its origins at the turn of the twentieth century. It is closely associated with the increasing dominance of quantified forms of knowledge at this time and, relatedly, to the development of new devices for measuring and assessing the body. This presentation takes as its starting point the early photographic motion studies of Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, produced in the 1910s and 1920s. Attaching small lamps to workers’ wrists or fingers, the Gilbreths filmed their movements using time-lapse film and photography, capturing their motion paths as streaks of light. For the Gilbreths, these photographic motion studies were a key research tool in their development of a new field of expertise they called “scientific management,” and which would come to establish a new type of professional as integral to the organisational structure of the modern workplace: the efficiency expert or scientific manager, whose role was to continually measure, assess, and improve worker productivity. This paper focuses on the emergence of the ideas of improvement and optimisation that underlies the Gilbreths’ work, and the emerging logics of productivity and optimisation of which it was a part.
Elizabeth Stephens is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Cultural Studies in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. She is the author of three monographs: A Critical Genealogy of Normality (University of Chicago Press, 2017), co-authored with Peter Cryle; Anatomy as Spectacle: Public Exhibitions of the Body from 1700 to the Present (Liverpool University Press, 2011); and Queer Writing: Homoeroticism in Jean Genet's Fiction (Palgrave 2009). Her Future Fellowship examines the cultural history of the experiment, from early modern science to contemporary experimental art.
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