Dreaming of Future Worlds: The Making of Modernity in 19th-Century France




After the revolutionary cataclysm, French society imagined its future. Different conceptions of modernity emerged and opposed in a historical moment in which utopian dreams, scientific projects, and romantic nostalgias fed an extraordinary intellectual and popular effervescence. How was the future imagined? How did society change? By focusing on utopian, scientific, literary texts and by interpreting images, we will discover the multiple facets of the imagination of future in 19th-century France and its impacts on the transformation of reality. By using a variety of sources, the course will analyze the different forms of the imagination of future and the debates between different conceptions of modernity in 19th-century France. From different perspectives, the students will be invited to reflect on the role of utopian imagination, on the emergence of social sciences, and on the force of the philosophies of progress. They will have the opportunity to explore the French culture of the 19th century and its fundamental role in shaping our conceptions of modernity.

Required texts:

The readings will be uploaded on Quercus.

Assignments and evaluation:

Mid-term test 30%
Final test 30%
Paper 30%
Participation 10%