Back to the Future

How our ancestors viewed the future

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.

The project is funded by

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 851053)