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Histories of the Future

space odysseyThe 2017–2018 academic year programming at HISB, HISTORIES OF THE FUTURE, will examine the changing modes and meanings of time, temporality (or time’s passing) and futurity at critical junctures from the 16th century to the present.

What concepts of the future were available to earlier peoples and cultures?

How might our own contemporary ideas of futurity and planetary consciousness impact our own histories and criticism of the past, understood as a series of fraught moments occurring within the contested time frame of the Anthropocene (the new geological era caused by human impact on the Earth system)?


HISTORIES OF THE FUTURE will bring together distinguished scholars, writers, artists and performers from SBU and beyond whose work challenges and theorizes the temporalities and narratives of modernity in all its aspects. Technological innovation, climate change, racial and gender emancipation movements, the militarization of the police, mass (and racialized) incarceration across the United States, continual global war and new modes of political terror, immigration crises, and globalization’s uneven and often desecrating impact: each construct complex narratives of time and futurity whose truth-effects have nonetheless seemed obvious. Yet how human cultures continually invent, broach or revive notions of time and futurity to deal with the cultural, social and political challenges of their periods will direct our conversations over the year.

If history is a record of progress that is also a record of barbarity, as German philosopher Walter Benjamin argued, how does this realization continue to stoke both our academic work and our forms of collective action and identity?


Have We Come to a Moment When the Past, Flashing Up in a Moment Of Danger, to Paraphrase Benjamin, Will Blast The Present Out Of The Continuum Of History?

Conferences, symposia and workshops and lectures will explore these themes:  Queer Futurities, Racial Temporalities, Romanticism’s Futures, Race and Sports, Feminist Protest Afro-Futurism, American Empire, and Transatlantic Performance Cultures.

 Multi-Day Conference:

“Shakespeare’s Futures: on the Arts and Sciences of Looking Ahead, 1500–1800” (staged in part to the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death), in Spring 2017.

Histories of the Future Film Series:

Last, but in no way least, the Humanities Undergraduate Club will host a film series called, “Apocalypse Now! Or, How to Imagine the End of Days” that will showcase well- and lesser-known films about utopic/dystopic futures, followed by discussions on the themes and issues they raise. Watch our calendar for dates for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017!


Spring 2017 Events

All events are at 4pm in 1008 Humanities unless otherwise noted

Date Event
Feb 1 Women's Leadership Coucil Sponsored by the Dean of CAS
Feb 2 Dean's Lecture Series lecture by Isiah Lavender III, Louisiana State University, "Of Alien Abductions, Pocket Universes, Trickster Technologies and Slave Narratives"
Feb 7 HISB Faculty Fellows lecture by Benjamin Tausig, Music Dept -- "Protest Sound and its Limits"
Feb 8 "UNITY Forum", Sponsored by Africana Studies, Black History Month Committee, & the Office of Multicultural Affairs. 6pm on February 8th
Feb 15 Apocalypse Now! film series-- The Lobster, 2016 1-2:30pm on Wednesday, February 15th
Feb 16 Tim Murphy, novelist -- reading from his book, Christodora. Sponsored by Cultural Studies and and Comparative Literature Dept and HISB.
Feb 21 “The Unity Verse” -- Poetry Open Mic in celebration of Black History Month. Sponsored by Africana Studies Dept and HISB.
Feb 23 Shakespeare's Futures, Conference,Thursday, February 23rd at 9:30am 
Feb 24 Shakespeare's Futures, Conference,Friday, February 24th at 9:30am 
Feb 28 HISB Public Humantieis Fellows lecture by Eva Boodman, PhD candidate in Philosophy -- "Wrestling with Knowledge and Power on Rikers Island"
Mar 2  Romantic Temporalitiies Colloquium - Maureen McLane, New York University -- "Romanticism: Now/Then" and  Thersea M. Kelly, University of Wisconsin-Madison -- "Reading for the Future" 10am on Thursday, March 2nd
Mar 8 Afro-Feminist Futures: Intersectionality in Question - Amadine Gay, filmmaker screening her film, Ouvrir La Voix with Q&A; Maboula Soumahoro, Université François-Rabelais, “The Hexagon and the Triangle: The Intersectional Body”, Oyeronke Oyewumi, SBU,“Decolonizing Knowledge: Gender & Feminism in Question”  at3pm
Mar 8 “Africans in India"at Zodiac Gallery-Wang Center, opens March 8th to May 6th. Co-Sponsored by HISB
Mar 9  Dean's Lecture Series lecture by Shelleen Greene, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, "After the Revolution: Everson’s Rhinoceros – Reading the Italian-Libyan Political Constellation through the Afrosurrealist Imaginary"
Mar 22 Daphne Brooks, Yale University -- “The Knowles Sisters" Political Hour: Black Feminist Dissent in Sound at the end of the Third Reconstruction”
Mar 23  Matthew Jacobson, Yale University, "The Historian’s Eye: Meditations on Photography, History, and the American Present”
Mar 29 Apocalypse Now! film series -- High-Rise, 2016 1-2:30pm on Wednesday, March 29th
Mar 30  Dean's Lecture Series lecture by Anindita Banerjee, Cornell University, "The Chernobyl Effect: Nuclear Histories of the Future"
Apr 4  HISB Public Humantieis Fellows lecture by Francisco Delgado, PhD candidate in English -- "Nya:wëh sgë:nö’: Revitalizing the Seneca Indian Language"
Apr 5 Faculty Lunchtime Series Lectures: Simone Brioni, CSCL -- "Italian Postcolonial Science Fiction"; Ritchie Calvin, WGSS -- "Nevermind the Gap: The Short Fiction of Judith Merril" 1-2:30pm on Wednesday, April 5th
Apr 5 "Bringing Racial Justice Home", Sponsored by Theatre Arts, Building Bridges Brookhaven, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook- Social Justice Committee, Suffolk County Interfaith Committee and HISB.
Apr 6 Eric Beverley, SBU & Shobana Shankar, SBU, "South Asia, Africa, and Indian Ocean Connections", in Wang Center Lecture HallCo-Sponsored by HISB. 12pm on Thursday, April 6th 
Apr 6 HISB Faculty Fellows lecture by Adrian Perez Melgosa, HLL -- "Spain’s New Jews and the Returns to Sepharad"
Apr 7  State of the Field: Stony Brook WGSS Emerging Scholar Symposium. Sponsored by WGSS. 9am-6pm on Friday, April 7th
Apr 12 "Freedom Riders", co-sponsored by Africana Studies and HISB
Apr 13 Omar H. Ali, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, “Malik Ambar and the Making of the African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean” in Wang Center Lecture Hall. Co-Sponsored by HISB. 1-2:30pm on Thursday, April 13th
Apr 13 Poetry Open Micin celebration of National Poetry Month, co-sponsored by Africana Studies and HISB
Apr 19 CSCL Graduate Colloquium. Sponsored by CSCL. 1-2:30pm on Wednesday, April 19th
Apr 27 Apocalypse Now! film series-- Zombie Double-Header: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, 2016; Train to Busan (South Korea), 2016

Fall 2016 Events

All event are at 4pm in 1008 Humanities unless otherwise noted

Date Event
Sep 14 E. Ann Kaplan and Marita Sturken on "Traumatic Futures"
Sep 29 Jennifer Wenzel, “Utopian Histories and Post-Anthropocene Futures: From Thomas More to The WetLand Project”
Oct 4 Constance Penley, "Utopia/Dystopia: The Uses of Time Travel"
Oct 20 Jack Halberstam (lecture), “Becoming Feral: Sex, Death and Falconry”
Oct 21 Jack Halberstam (seminar), “Wild Things—Queer and Feminist Theory at the End of the World”   --  10:00 am
Oct 27 Ben Carrington “Forgivable Whiteness: Race, Family and the Last of the Great White Hopes”
Brenda Elsey, “Unbearable Whiteness of Women’s Soccer”
Nov 3-4 "Romanticisms Futures" Symposium, 2:00 pm on Nov 3, 10:00 am on Nov 4
Nov 7 The Great Debate --“Be it resolved, the present system for choosing Presidential party nominees is broken: bring back the political party bosses to choose future candidates”  -- 1006 Humanities
Nov 10 "Untimely Bodies: Race, Temporality, Queerness" Symposium, 2:00 pm
Nov 17 Lucas Foglia, “Photographing People in Nature”
Nov 30 Racial Temporalities Series symposium: “The Past, Present and Future of Global White Supremacy”, 3:00 pm