Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9:30 – 10:50 am

Dr. David Stradling

Historians are as concerned with the future (both realized and imagined) as they are with the past. Everyone everywhere has imagined the future and has worked to shape it. As a result, we have always lived in a continuous future where peoples, places, cultures, politics, and environments have been repeatedly made and remade. Imagined futures tell us much about the ambitions and fears of the past and present, thereby acting as guides to help us understand the mentalities of the people who envisaged them and those who tried to make them a reality.

Some people have imagined a dystopian future – crowded, polluted, dangerous, or undemocratic. Others have conceived utopia not as a place but as a time – the future. Finally, some people see the future as predestined and fixed, while others believe they have the power to shape and even change it. Each of these imaginings tells us much about the moments and the people that created them, thus offering a rich opportunity to engage with the past and reflect on the present. This course uses examples of imaginings of the future and structures aimed to realize them to analyze present and past conceptions of progress and innovation. The chronological scope and the geographical focus of the course vary by instructor.