History | Visions of the Future: A History
W100 | 2945 | Pace


In this course we will explore the development of conceptions of the
future from the 18th century Enlightenment to the end of the 20th
century in order to better understand how Western culture has viewed
the world across the past two centuries.  Using documents, fiction,
film, television, art works, and advertising, we will consider such
issues as hopes that science and technology could produce
a new and better life for humanity, encounters with other cultures,
space exploration, concerns about economic, racial, and gender
equality in the world of the future, fears of nuclear or
environmental disaster, and the conceptualization of the future in
terms of the acquisition of consumer goods.

Students will have the opportunity to explore some of the central
issues that have concerned Western cultures over the past two
centuries and to discuss their reactions at length.  They will work
individually and in teams to produce a series of short assignments
and papers and a longer research project.  The kinds of skills that
are required in these exercises will be systematically presented, so
that students will understand the kind of work expected of them,
regardless of whether they have ever had a college history course.

For an overview see the course web site at