These Are Not Your Mother’s Sundials: Or, Time and Astronomy’s Authority

Schechner, Sara

Made of silver, gilt brass, ivory, wood, and stone, these exquisite sundials made between 1500 and 1900 will delight and surprise you. Some are pocket-sized and portable. Others are fine sculpture and princely treasure. And all do more than simply find the time.

By looking closely at the material culture of astronomy—in this case, sundials—we will see how astronomy’s authority was culturally bounded when it came to finding and telling the time. Learn the stories sundials tell of race, empire, labor, religion, fashion, and politics.

This paper will draw upon the extraordinary collection of sundials and time finding instruments at the Adler Planetarium, which the speaker has been cataloging. The sundials shown in this paper will appear in the first volume of the catalog, completed in the spring of 2016.

Return to oral presentation list