Anticipating Modernities

In an age of so-called globalisation and dramatically deteriorating environmental conditions, the concept of modernity has come under ever-increasing scrutiny, not least for its traditional links to specifically Western grands récits. Because of literature’s fundamental involvement with issues of temporality and especially because of its tendency to construct temporalities of its own, literature, too, must be affected by these debates. How many modernities are there, how are they constructed and how are they related to the cultural modernisms they are associated with?

EXC 2020’s annual conference „Anticipating Modernities” (July 6th–8th, 2022) will critically address these issues, inquiring how literary temporalities engage with their own futures and pasts beyond oppositions such as „old” vs. „new”. Our conference seeks to explore how the process of „doing literature” is always involved in developing and transforming its own historical and temporal forms of signification, how imagined futures can only be established by relying on past models, how current cultural productions are haunted by the suppressed lines of tradition embedded within them, and how visions of literature go out of date. Is it possible to think modernity within a broad variety of cultural and historical settings without simultaneously falling prey to the anticipatory, teleological and self-fulfilling tendencies so dominant in the Western grand récit of modernity?

EXC 2020’ annual conference „Anticipating Modernities” is organised by its Research Area 3 „Future Perfect” (Anne Eusterschulte, Beatrice Gründler, and Andrew James Johnston). The conference will take place in a hybrid format, with discussants meeting on campus in Berlin. Participation online is open to the public. For participation and all relevant information and accesses, please register by July 6th.     

WHEN? Wednesday, July 6th–Friday, July 8th


  • Online via Webex: The access data will be circulated upon registration via this platform.
  • In-Person-Participation (for Cluster members only):
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Habelschwerdter Allee 45,
    14195 Berlin (Silberlaube)

    The venue and all further information will be circulated after registration via e-mail to