COLL-E 104 12214 Visions of the Future: A History (Pace) (S&H) (3 cr.)

9:30 AM 10:45 AM TR

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, I was fascinated by two very different visions of the future. On the one hand, I was transfixed by the powerful language and vivid imagery of the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible. At the same time I was entranced by the promises of a world of flying cars, trips to the moon, and universal prosperity that appeared regularly in the magazine section of the Sunday newspaper. As time passed new futures appeared in the culture around me the horror of a future devastated by nuclear war, the hope for a world of racial and cultural tolerance, to mention but two of them. When years later I encountered the work of historians who sought to trace the development of different visions of the future as a means of determining the ideas and values of past eras, my old fascination with such futures returned, and I eventually decided to use the "history of the future" as an organizing concept around which to build a course.

In this course we will explore such issues as expectations of the end of the world, 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 about the growing destructiveness of warfare, fears of nuclear or environmental disaster, and the conceptualization of the future in terms of the acquisition of consumer goods. Grades be based on weekly web assignments, two 5- page essays, in-class team exercises, You can find more information about this course at