America’s Changing Attitudes on Wasting Time Topic of WSU Lecture
OGDEN, Utah – In today’s busy, technology-driven world, time is of the essence. An award-winning scholar and author will explore how previous generations have grappled with wasted time at Weber State University, Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in the Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room.
Alexis McCrossen is a professor of U.S. social and cultural history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She is the author of “Marking Modern Times: A History of Clocks, Watches, and Other Timekeepers in American Life,” published in 2013, and “Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday,” published in 2000.
In her lecture, “Wasting Time: History and Image” McCrossen will explain how the concept of wasting time has changed throughout American history. She will draw from her research on the history of Sunday, the history of timekeeping and the history of New Year’s celebrations.
“Americans have always been focused on the correct use of time,” McCrossen said. “Over centuries, religious and civil laws have policed the boundaries of acceptable behavior; in essence defining what is and is not a good use of time.”
Christians in the 19th century believed there were only two worthwhile occupations: hard work and religious worship. This conservative view of time deemed any other activity such as dancing, reading fiction, attending concerts, let alone watching football, as frivolous, therefore, a waste of time. This perspective was particularly evident during the 1930s, when the economic slowdown caused by the Great Depression created opportunities for people to spend their time on activities other than work. McCrossen argues the conservative view of time still exists today, and, as a society, we are quick to judge people for “wasting time” on leisure activities.
The lecture is sponsored by the Department of History, the College of Engineering, Applied Sciences & Technology (EAST) and the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL). McCrossen’s lecture will encompass the respective lecture themes of both CCEL and EAST: waste and technology.
“We decided it would be interesting to have someone who could talk about wasting time,” said Susan Matt, history department chair. “Alexis McCrossen is one of the nation’s leading experts on the history of time, so naturally, she came to mind.”
McCrossen is the recipient of various awards and fellowships such as a Whiting Dissertation Fellowship (1994-95), an American Historical Association’s Littleton-Griswold Research Grant (1997), a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship and the “Choice” Outstanding Scholarly Publication award (2001) for her book about the American Sunday.
“I hope the audience will gain an understanding of how different generations and cultures have defined time and the varying ways they have thought about wasting time,” Matt said. “What is wasted time to one group is time well spent to another.”
The next event in the Engaged Learning Series is “American Indian Land and Water: Confronting Many Challenges” by University of Utah political science professor Dan McCool, Nov. 4 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Elizabeth Hall Room 229. For more information about the Engaged Learning Series, visit weber.edu/ccel/els.html.
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