The environmental crisis is, in many ways, a crisis of time. From the distress cries of birds that no longer know when to migrate, to the rapid dying of coral reefs, to the quickening pace of extreme weather events, the patterns and timekeeping of the natural world are falling apart. We have broken nature's clocks.
Lying hidden at the root of this problem are the cultural narratives that shape our actions and horizons of thought, but as Paul Huebener shows, we can bring about change by developing a critical literacy of time. Moving from circadian rhythms and the revival of ancient frozen bacteria to camping advertisements and the politics of oil pipelines, Nature's Broken Clocks turns to works of fiction and poetry, examining how cultural narratives of time are connected to the problems of ecological collapse and what we might do to fix them.
Paul Huebener is the author of Timing Canada: The Shifting Politics of Time in Canadian Literary Culture, which was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize. He is an associate professor of English at Athabasca University and lives in Calgary, Alberta.
– Short-listed, Best Work of Creative Writing 2021
– Runner-up, Alanna Bondar Memorial Prize 2022
"Understanding how we think about time, Huebener contends, makes us see that there is no simple 'reset,' no simple 'return' to nature."
– Canadian Literature
"Urgent and profound, Nature's Broken Clocks is essential reading for anyone interested in time and the environment."
– Nicholas Bradley, author of Rain Shadow
"Paul Huebener's book is wise and winsome company in ecological times that feel threatened and short."
– Daniel Coleman, author of Yardwork
"Nature's Broken Clocks will inspire readers to reflect deeply on our manipulations of time, and on the impact of our shifting temporal imaginations and practices on the ecosphere."
– Sarah Wylie Krotz, University of Alberta
"Huebener's text reminds us that we can cultivate sensitivities to temporalities that aren't immediately evident [...] Huebener's adroitness to the intersections of time and literature made this work a pleasure to read [...] Nature's Broken Clocks [is] [...] an accessible and provocative reading experience."
"An intriguing, enjoyable, and accessible read, original in concept, mixing history and science to deconstruct various understandings and aspects of time, and using literature to explain, illuminate, or build on the resulting ideas."
– Sharon Butala, author of Season of Fury and Wonder
"Are we capable as a species of adequately revising our understanding of time and human purpose in the face of the urgent climate crisis forcing itself into our common view? And what would that take? Huebener worries at these questions with anxious critical attention, gathering together a compendium of contemporary literary and scientific approaches that may or may not answer to this greatest of earthly challenges we face together now. A grief song, a funeral song above all else. A place to begin."
– Di Brandt, author of Walking to Mojácar and Glitter & Fall
"In the vein of Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Paul Huebener addresses ecological emergency. In this paradigm-shifting book, he draws on sources as wide-ranging as literature, turtles, corals, and hybrid grizzly-polar bears that tell time differently from the restless 24/7 of insomniac global extractivism. One of the leading figures in the field of ecocritical time studies, Huebener illuminates multi-temporal power and the way stories and pipelines alike are 'gadgets' for measuring time."
– Pamela Banting, University of Calgary