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Back2theFuture SIGNED

Back to the Future: Future expectations and actions in late medieval and early modern Europe, c.1400-c.1830

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 Back2theFuture project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the Back2theFuture project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "Back2theFuture" about.

enlightenment    record    calculus    loom    linear    fail    merchant    women    regions    empirical    probability    men    reading    learned    craftsmen    1830    chronology    combination    reformation    methodology    groups    german    link    tend    explanations    italian    historians    draws    temporalities    variety    wives    dutch    letters    constructible    hence    french    ignore    justice    family    shed    merchants    1400    futures    english    hard    thinking    fuzzy    narratives    distant    clerks    actions    period    types    perceive    contrast    grand    innovative    interplay    written    from    gain    eighteenth    practical    clergy    light    15    social    motivations    moments    correspondents    varieties    documents    simply    literature    thoughts    modernity    base    children    thin    europeans    century    expectations    speed    agents    members    actual    powered    people    languages    onwards    extremely    capitalism    reconstruct    nobles    hypotheses    generally    biased    close    carefully    grained    uncertain    thought    fine    man    modern   

Project "Back2theFuture" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: PRINSSTRAAT 13
postcode: 2000

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Belgium [BE]
 Total cost 1˙470˙883 €
 EC max contribution 1˙470˙883 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2019-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2020
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2020-02-01   to  2025-01-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT ANTWERPEN BE (ANTWERPEN) coordinator 1˙470˙883.00


 Project objective

From the eighteenth century onwards, the future was considered as open, uncertain and constructible – the way we tend to perceive the future today. In contrast, early modern Europeans believed that the future was beyond the control of man. The aim of this project is to challenge such grand narratives on past futures, which are generally highly linear and focused on modernity, have a fuzzy chronology and thin empirical base, biased by learned text. Moreover, these hypotheses fail to do justice to the presence and interplay of various (multi)temporalities and do not link future expectations to the concrete actions of men and women in the past. Most historians simply ignore the topic, since past futures are extremely hard to find in the written record. Hence, they focus on the actions of men and women in the past rather than their motivations. To gain more insight in how people in the past thought about the future and how this affected their actions, this project draws on a highly innovative combination of close and distant reading methods of more than 15,000 letters written in (varieties of) Italian, German, French, Dutch and English by and to European merchants in the period 1400-1830. These practical documents enable us to reconstruct different types of future thinking of these merchants and to assess how these thoughts powered their actual behaviour. Better still, they also shed light on the future expectations of their non-merchant correspondents: their wives, children and other family members, clerks, clergy, nobles, craftsmen, etc. A comparative analysis of the letters from these different social groups, written in several languages, in a variety of European regions and during distinct moments, allows us to identify the impact/speed of potential agents of change that loom large in the literature (capitalism, the Reformation, probability calculus, and the Enlightenment) more carefully. With this methodology, we will be able to provide fine-grained explanations.

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The information about "BACK2THEFUTURE" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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