Scribner Seminar Program
Imagining the Future
Instructor(s): Barbara Black, English
In this course, we will take up the challenging work of imagining the future. Our readings will primarily come from the rich tradition of modern utopian and dystopian fiction: Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, William Morris’s News from Nowhere, H. G. Wells’s The Sleeper Awakes and The Time Machine; Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. These remarkable authors’ “thought experiments” will allow us to study the history of the future—to go back to the future. Yes, we will discuss the movie Back to the Future, as well as the classic Blade Runner and Spike Jonze’s recent, brilliant rendering of the near future, Her. In the final weeks, we will turn to those issues that particularly trouble us today in respect to our own future—issues such as geoengineering, population control, global politics, and artificial intelligence. Here some of the very best of contemporary journalism will guide our discussions: What and who will be our future? What will our world look like? Will we have a future? As we engage with these questions, we will encounter both terror and hope and possibly, at some moments, something that feels like optimism.