Chronologies, Calendars, Old-Style/New Style, and Methods of Time-Keeping in Early America


Panel organizer: Reiner Smolinski, Georgia State University


Efforts to harmonize ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Hebrew calendars proved troublesome to many early modern scholars who sought to reconcile "pagan" timetables with James Ussher's Annales Veteris Testamenti (1650). Famously, Ussher had dated the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:1) and the beginning of time to "the entrance of the night preceding the twenty third day of Octob. in the year of the Julian Calendar, 710" i.e., October 23, 4004 BCE (Annals [1658], p. 1). Although Ussher's chronology became an integral part of several editions of the KJV until the end of the 19th century, such deterministic chronologies came increasingly under pressure in the 16th through the early 19th centuries, when missionary accounts from China, archaeological discoveries in the Fertile Crescent, Native American accounts, geological studies of the fossils, and Enlightenment skepticism challenged the prevailing notions of the beginning of time. We welcome proposals that explore any aspect of time-keeping (including clock-making), efforts to accommodate the Mosaic hexaemeron, reconsiderations of the geological record, or philosophical re-definitions of the concepts of time and eternity in early America.

Please send your 300-word abstract to Reiner Smolinski, Dept. of English, Georgia State University, Box 3970, Atlanta, GA 30302-3970, or to by Friday, September 7, 2012.