Histories of the Future

Design (of buildings, cities, landscapes) is an anticipatory discipline, whose techniques, practices, and desires are directed toward the formulation of futures. Not future objects as such, but future situations; scenarios of behaviors prompted by buildings; or different circumstances of politics, economics, or subjectivity that will encompass cities; or territorial arrangements of new assemblies of technology and life. Insofar as design is actually the anticipatory design of futures, then design history is the history of futures. This seminar will examine some prior moments of futurism with the aim of reconstructing and inhabiting unaccustomed states of anticipation.The seminar will focus on the 20th century, but will commence with a broader consideration of various models of anticipation such as eschatology, progress, determinism, evolution, and relativity. Readings drawn from philosophy, aesthetics, law, and culture will be taken up to illuminate the particular predispositions of such anticipations. Over the course of the seminar, events and projects drawn from design history will be examined as the evidence of the possibilities and impossibilities latent within different states of anticipation.The seminar will conclude with case studies of anticipation developed by the students as independent research projects.