What If? Counterfactual & Alternate Histories

Orthodox historians have tended to dislike attempts to think counterfactually about the past, on the grounds that ‘virtual history’ offers little more than entertainment and degenerates too easily into banal trivialities. Yet popular and professional interest in counterfactual history continues to grow, spawning a growing number of books on the ‘what if?’ This course will explore the counterfactual approach to history – the history of “what might have happened” – in its multifaceted embodiments (literature, film, philosophy, social sciences, and historiographical practice).

Corinne Doria:

Corinne Doria is a historian specialized in the history of medicine, science and technology, and in the histories of political ideas. She received her MA degree in Literature and Philosophy at the University of Milan in 2007 and a doctoral degree in Modern History at Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne University and the University of Milan (1st grade honours) in 2012. In 2013-14 she was a Post-doctoral Fellow at Paris-4 University and co-director of the joint project Écrire Une Histoire Nouvelle de l’Europe (Writing A New History of Europe), with the Universities of Paris 1, Paris 4, and Nantes. Since 2014 she is being teaching Modern History at the Department of Administration, Labour and Social Studies at Paris 1 University and Disability Studies at Sciences-Po Paris since 2017. In 2018-9 she was Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University. Her book Un Philosophe Entre Deux Révolutions. Pierre-Paul–Royer-Collard (1763-1845)(Rennes: PUR, 2018) was awarded by the André-Germaine Lequeux Prize by the Académie Française.