Course Description

MSI students at the annual dinner

Please see the course description below to learn about MSI’s 2021 Academic Component.

Imagining the Future

This course on Anglophone literature, postcolonialism, and the African diaspora proposes to critically investigate the concept of time. In particular, we will examine how time provides a crucial framework for how we imagine the future. We will take the seemingly self-evident concept of time and critically examine its intellectual history to consider how time serves a crucial function as a means of ordering our cultural, economic, and political ideas as well as our individual lives. Frameworks of history, modernity, and futurity rely on concepts of development and progress that are related to broader ideas of race and sexuality. In what ways do historical representations of time, development, and progress structure how we imagine the future? On whose behalf is progress being imagined? Where is progress located? What are the ideals of the future? Whose pasts are connected to the futures that we privilege? In considering these questions, we will examine a range of novels, films, empirical studies, and cultural theory that provide a complex portrait of how the future is imagined, especially from the perspective of those scripted out of its dominant narrative. We will engage with critical and literary approaches, including Afrofuturism, queer futurity, the developmental novel, economic models, and science fiction.