What did people in the past think about the future and how did this affect their actions?
This is the question the EU-funded Back2theFuture project tries to answer. It draws on a highly innovative combination of close and distant reading methods for more than 15 000 letters written in Dutch, English, French, German and Italian – by and to European merchants – in the period 1400-1830. These practical documents enable the identification the merchants’ thinking and shed light on their future expectations. By reviewing letters from various European regions and over a span of several hundred years, the project will be able to identify transformations.