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 obtained a Ph.D. in Modern History at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University (France) and the University of Milan (Italy). From 2014 to 2018, she was a Lecturer at Sorbonne University. In 2019, she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University (New York). A specialist in the social history of medicine and disability, Dr. Doria's work focuses on the history of ophthalmology and visual impairment. Her research interests also include the field of medical humanities. She has published four books, eighteen peer-reviewed articles, and ten book chapters. During the last three years, she has been awarded research fellowships and grants from several prestigious European and American institutions: Columbia University (USA), the Corning Museum of Glass (USA), the Deutsches Museum (Munich, Germany), and the Scientific Instrument Society (London, UK).