Early Modern Futures

Early Modern Futures

Digital exhibit for Early Modern Futures, a conference (April 24th, 2015)

Accompanied by a physical exhibit in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library
(9am-5pm; 4/24/2015)

How did early modern literature conceive the future? Scholarship of early modern literature has paid ample attention to the many ways in which time was perceived and understood, frequently emphasizing retrospective forms of historical thinking, such as memory and nostalgia. Early Modern Futures seeks to spark a conversation about the many ways in which early modern literature also thought about where things were headed. How did beliefs about future events (from the eschatological to the economic to the genealogical) shape people’s actions in the present? How did early modernity understand the past in relation to the future? How was prospective historical thinking practiced through various textual and literary forms? That is, how did records, scripts, manuals, genres, or editions represent the future or anticipate their own reception? How do the modes of early modern prospection as suggested by terms like prophecy, speculation, and progression point to different theorizations of futurity? How does present scholarship receive and use the past’s ideas about the future? This conference aims to explore early modernity’s uniquely literary means for projecting its future, and through this to advance scholarly debates about the role and forms of historicism in early modern culture.

Exhibit content produced by Rachel Dunn, Ben VanWagoner, and Seth Williams.

Digital exhibit curated by Ben VanWagoner

Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 / rbml@libraries.cul.columia.edu