BACK TO THE FUTURE: VISIONS OF TOMORROW IN HISTORY
The “The history of the future” can, at first, seem like a contraction in terms. But the past several years have seen increasing scholarly interest in the study of past futures. Not only are utopian, dystopian, and apocalyptic visions of the future interesting in their own right, but they also offer historians a lens to reexamine core disciplinary issues of contingency and historical change. Looking at the hopes and fears people had for future can tell us about their priorities and reveal what kind of change they considered possible or likely.
The future was (and is) the site of political contestation. Scientists, politicians, avant-garde artists, science fiction writers, revolutionaries, environmentalists, parents, teachers, religious figures, and corporations all have had different ways of knowing, envisioning, and shaping the future. Debates over what the future should be like—and whether humanity will be around to see it—continue to animate debates to the present day.