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Nostradamus 0, Nostalgia 1


Examine these postcards in which 19th century French artists tried to imagine their world a century in the future, along with this set from the year 1900 doing the same for the year 2000 (and totally missing Y2K), then discuss with your team: what can we learn from such projects about how the present informs people’s visions of the future? Whom would you hire to make postcards to illustrate the world of 2124—or is it a job for ChatGPT? Would people today still be able to dream up such optimistic visions of the world of tomorrow, or do we live in a deeply pessimistic age?

Over 100 year ago, some French artists tried to imagine what the world of the future would be like. They may have been inspired by the most influential science fiction writers Jules Verne, whose collection called Voyages Extraordinaires contained 55 novels, including the well-known “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World In 80 Days”. He even wrote a short work imagining what life would be like a millennium in the future called "In the Year 2889". 

Starting in 1899, a commercial artist named Jean-Marc Côté and other artists were hired by a toy or cigarette manufacturer to create a series of picture cards as inserts. Sadly, they were never actually distributed. However, the only known set of cards to exist was discovered by Isaac Asimov, who wrote a book in 1986 called “Futuredays” in which he presented the illustrations with commentary.

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Technological strides were made in electromagnetism and wireless communication that led to the invention of the telephone and radio during the latter decades of the 19th century, so naturally a machine that transcribe would be part of their imagination. 

Another card shows video calls imagined from the technology of the day. Apple Facetime? Zoom?

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Other types of advances in projection were expected as well, allowing microscope or telescope images to be much more visible. Today we have monitors.

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In light of the Industrial revolution that occurred in France in the early part of the 19th century, automation would have been rife with possibilities. Robot barbers.

For women, the vision was more extensive, including an all-in-one robotic make-up artist and hairdresser:

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What about a robotic tailor? 

One card shows all the instruments of an orchestra being controlled by the conductor, which isn’t too far off from the robotic instruments designed by Festo:

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We still can't have a machine build an entire house, but recent advances in 3D printing almost beg for houses and other buildings to be printed out, if the technology could be worked out.

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Agriculture? Robots on farms are on the rise, as bots have been developed to milk cowspick only ripe strawberries, and even kill weeds.

While it may seem a bit to Matrix-like to become a reality, one could argue that this is fundamentally what an audiobook is or what the Internet does with information.

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The rise of molecular gastronomy in fine dining has made food chemistry a modern reality. It may seem like food science has its limitations, but one only needs to consider efforts to grow meat in a laboratory to see how far technology may go.

Considering that powered gliders were in development during the 1890s, the first Zeppelin was being constructed in 1900, and the Wright brothers made their historic flight in 1903, flight was not such a big leap.  

This was their imagination of airtravel.

Many were inspired by 200,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Sadly, we haven't progressed far underwater. Perhaps Google’s efforts to allow underwater exploration in Google Maps will begin to help

Some, we already know are bad ideas, such as rapid biological development of eggs into chicks:

Radium to heat he house? Another dangerous idea.

It's interesting to see that they were not so wrong on many aspects. With the development of AI, climate change, population growth and the other unexpected changes in the world (Covid-19), will we be able to predict the world 100 years from now? 

The article features the same set of postcards by Jean-Marc Côté and how they were presented at the 1900 Paris World Fair. Some big misses: no space travel, no atomic bomb, no computers, no cars, no mobile phones. You can see many were inspired by Jules Verne's stories of air and underwater travel. Here are some additional ones that will delight, surprise and maybe even shock you.

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It’s boom times for doom times, but from artificial intelligence to climate change to food supplies, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that the future will be better — if we make it so.  According to one major international poll, a majority of young people agreed with the statement that “humanity is doomed.” Respondents were worried about climate change (59% very or extremely worried, 84% at least moderately worried). Over 50% felt sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty. Over 45% said their feelings about

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climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change. Respondents rated the governmental response to climate change negatively and reported greater feelings of betrayal than of reassurance.

The doomers are wrong about humanity’s future — and its past by Bryan Walsh

I could tell you that a little more than 200 years ago, nearly half of all children born died before they reached their 15th birthday, and that today it’s less than 5% globally.  In pre-industrial times, starvation was a constant specter and life expectancy was in the 30s at best. At the dawn of the 19th century, barely more than one person in 10 was literate, while today that ratio has been nearly reversed. I could tell you that today is, on average, the best time to be alive in human history. But, people don't believe so.

2015 survey of thousands of adults in nine rich countries found that 10% or fewer believed that the world was getting better. On the internet, a strange nostalgia persists for the supposedly better times before industrialization, when ordinary people supposedly worked less and life was allegedly simpler and healthier. (They didn’t and it wasn’t.)

In his 2022 book Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the 20th Century, the economic historian Brad DeLong shared, "In 1870, an average unskilled male worker in London could earn enough per day to buy 5,000 calories worth of food for himself and his family. That was more than in 1600, but not significantly more, and not enough to easily feed everyone consistently. By 2010 — the end of what DeLong in his book called “the long twentieth century” — that same worker could afford to buy the equivalent of 2.4 million calories of food per day, a nearly 50,000% increase." 

Some believe we are stuck in the Malthusian Trap, named after the 18th-century English cleric and economist Thomas Malthus. The trap argues that any increase in food production or other resources that allowed the population to grow was quickly consumed by that increased population, which then led to food shortages and population decline.

The fact that as of 2016 some 13% of the world still lacked access to electricity — the invisible foundation of modernity — is just as worthy of our worry. The fact that 85% of the world — a little less than 7 billion people — lives on less than $30 a day should keep us awake at night. We have made much progress, solved old problems, created new challenge and we have the potential to progress a lot more. 

Explore the following visions of the future that have not played out as predicted—at least, not yet. Which ones are the closest to having been realized?

What is the best way to predict history? Human beings are irrational and illogical and sometimes the logical methods just might not catch all the pieces. In his seminal Foundation series, legendary science fiction author Isaac Asimov introduced the world to the concept of psychohistory: the ability to predict the future using existing data. It is concept born from science fiction and may now become a reality thanks to big data. Click on the image below read more into this. 

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There are three areas of inter-related psychohistorical research:

1. History of Childhood

2. Psychobiography. Here we seek to understand individual historical actors and their motivations. Psychobiography is the oldest and most well established form of psychohistorical scholarship. It involves reconstruction of a person’s emotional development.

3. Group Psychology. As with individuals, group psychology and behavior are also influenced by emotion, fantasies, and unconscious complexes. While there is no collective mind existing independently of the individuals who make up the

group, patterns of shared culture and child-rearing give rise to common attitudes, fantasies, beliefs and values that often play decisive roles in history. Different groups support and oppose wars, revolutions, genocides and other large scale historical projects.

These three  branches of psychohistory overlap.  Political elites both manipulate and are influenced by mass psychology, which connects the psychobiography of leaders with group psychology.  In addition to shared patterns of child rearing, macro-historical traumas such as slavery, wars and genocides shape group identities and the intergenerational transmission of trauma links psychobiography with group psychology.

Kalev Leetaru, acclaimed Google developer expert for the Google Cloud Platform and senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, "“Well in 2011, I published a paper called Culturomics 2.0 that showed that by data mining 100 million news articles and focusing not on the physical things there, but on the latent dimensions, things like the emotional undercurrents of that content, what locations were being talked about and in what context and how, it turns out that we were able to forecast the Arab Spring and give ourselves Bin Laden's location to within 200km of where he was actually found."


In 2013, Leetaru took a major step towards the realisation of this vision with the founding of the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT). A breathtakingly ambitious big data project, GDELT compiles data from 1979 to the present, with data at a daily level of detail available from 2013 onwards. One example Leetaru gives is the refugee crisis, a rapidly changing event that GDELT could provide valuable insights into. “To be able to track both where are those refugees going, how are they moving, but also the reaction to that. To trace, for example, refugees here are being welcomed with open arms; refugees over here are being pushed away,” he says. “But more importantly, to track how that's changing, to track the areas that have previously welcomed refugees and are now pushing them away.


Steampunk is a fascinating genre of science fiction that retro-futuristic technology that focuses on the steam engine machinery. They are often set in the Victorian era or the Wild West and feature an alternative history. They often feature anachronistic (out of time order) technology, such as the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Although steampunk literature has been around since the 19th century, the term became popular in the 1980s with other terms such as cyberpunk. If you haven't read a steampunk novel, definitely pick one up. The Difference Engine is a good choice that is on the Top 10 List. 

Due to the growing popularity of Steampunk, a subculture of adults have emerged that want to adopt Steampunk as a lifestyle. They come together as a like minded community, sharing the same passion of the genre. Many gather at conventions to associate with music, film, home décor, fashion, art, and design that is Steampunk inspired.

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Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech", featuring futuristic technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cyberware, juxtaposed with societal collapse, dystopia or decay. Much of cyberpunk is rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, where writers examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction. Cyberpunk can be intended to disquiet readers and call them to action. It often expresses a sense of rebellion, suggesting that one could describe it as a type of cultural revolution in science fiction.

Famous cyberpunk works include comic Judge Dredd and Will Gibson's Neuromancer. Cyberpunk became very popular in Japan with manga series Akira.  Movies inspired by cyberpunk include "Blade Runner", "The Matrix Trilogy", and Ghost in the Shell. Final Fantasy VII is also a video game based on cyberpunk. 

Cyberpunk plots often involve conflict between artificial intelligence, hackers, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than in the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's "Dune". The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to feature extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original inventors.

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The metaverse is a loosely defined term referring to virtual worlds in which users represented by avatars interact, usually in 3D and usually focused on social and economic connection. The term metaverse originated in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash as a portmanteau of "meta" and "universe". In Snow Crash, the metaverse is envisioned as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets.

The term "metaverse" is often linked to virtual reality technology, and beginning in the early 2020s, with Web3.0. The term has been used as a buzzword by companies to exaggerate the development progress of various related technologies and projects for public relations purposes. Information privacy, user addiction, and user safety are concerns within the metaverse, stemming from challenges facing the social media and video game industries as a whole. 

Popular games described as part of the metaverse include Habbo Hotel,  World of WarcraftMinecraft, FortniteVRChat, and game creation platform Roblox.  In 2017, Microsoft acquired the VR company AltspaceVR, and has since implemented virtual avatars and meetings held in virtual reality into Microsoft Teams. In 2019, the social network company Facebook launched a social VR world called Facebook Horizon. In 2021, the company was renamed "Meta Platforms" and its chairman Mark Zuckerberg declared a company commitment to developing a metaverse.

Reality or marketing gimmick? In a February 2022 article for The New York Times, Lauren Jackson argued that the metaverse is "stalled from achieving scale by a lack of infrastructure for both hardware and software, a monopolistic approach to platform development, and a lack of clear governance standards." In December 2021, Raja Koduri, senior vice president of Intel, claimed that "Truly persistent and immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time, will require even more: a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from today's state of the art." In an article for The New York Times on October 26, 2022, Ryan Mac, a technology reporter, claimed that for the past year, Mark Zuckerberg has struggled to find the best way to achieve the metaverse without success yet. 

Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many countries, with varying levels of success. It has never become widely seen as being a viable option for delivering mail, due to the cost of the schemes and numerous failures. The collection of philatelic material ("stamps") used for (and depicting) rocket mail is part of a specialist branch of aerophilately known as astrophilately.

The earliest type of the rocket mail was parchment wrapped around an arrow, but the modern version was created by Heinrich von Kleist in 1810. Back then rockets relied on gunpowder and were used as artillery, so despite its speed, they were unreliable and dismissed. However, in 1927, Hermann Julius Oberth revisited this topic (photo of the right), lecturing about how rockets can be used to deliver mail. Oberth's lecture caught the attention of Friedrich Schiemdl, who lived in the Austrian Alps. He launched the first rocket mail to deliver letters to a place 5 kilometers away. Other countries were inspired to utilize rockets to deliver mail, and it was largely successful in India. 

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Things didn’t really take off in the US until 1959, when the Post Office Department fired a Regulus cruise missile with its nuclear warhead replaced by two mail containers, towards a Naval Station in Mayport, Florida. The 13,000-pound missile lifted off with 3,000 letters and twenty-two minutes later struck the target at Mayport, 700 miles away. The letters were retrieved, stamped and circulated as usual. The successful delivery of the mails prompted Postmaster Summerfield to enthusiastically declare that “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.” But it was not to be. The cost of rocket mail was too high—that little experiment with the Regulus cruise missile cost the US government $1 million but generated only $240 in revenue by sale of postage stamps. Neither the Post Office nor the Department of Defense could justify the cost of using missile mail, especially when airplanes were already making mail deliveries across the world in a single night at the fraction of a cost.

A flying car or roadable aircraft is a type of vehicle which can function both as a road vehicle and as an aircraft. As used here, this includes vehicles which drive as motorcycles when on the road. The term "flying car" is also sometimes used to include hovercars and/or VTOL (vertically take off and landing) personal air vehicles. Many prototypes have been built since the early 20th century, using a variety of flight technologies. Most have been designed to take off and land conventionally using a runway. Although VTOL projects are increasing, none has yet been built in more than a handful of numbers. Their appearance is often predicted by futurologists, and many concept designs have been promoted. Their failure to become a practical reality has led to the catchphrase "Where's my flying car?", as a paradigm for the failure of predicted technologies to appear. Flying cars are also a popular theme in fantasy and science fiction stories. One of the most notable appearances in pop culture is the Delorean from the movie franchise "Back to the Future". 

In June 2023, California corporation Alef Aeronautics revealed its flying car “Model A" was granted legal permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to test run the vehicle on the road and in the sky − a move needed before it can be released to the public. Alef is the first company to receive a Special Airworthiness Certification from the FAA and the car is 100% electric. Pre-order has already started at $299,999 and $1500 to enter the priority queue.

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Convair Model 118, a prototype flying car from 1947

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Hyperloop is a proposed high-speed transportation system for both passengers and freight. The concept was documented by Elon Musk in a 2013 white paper, where the hyperloop was described as a transportation system using capsules supported by an air-bearing surface within a low-pressure tube. Hyperloop systems have three essential elements: tubes, pods, and terminals. The tube is a large, sealed low-pressure system (typically a long tunnel). The pod is a coach at atmospheric pressure that experiences low air resistance or friction inside the tube using magnetic propulsion (in the initial design, augmented by a ducted fan). The terminal handles pod arrivals and departures.  

The hyperloop concept has been promoted by Musk and SpaceX, and other companies or organizations were encouraged to collaborate in developing the technology. A Technical University of Munich hyperloop set a speed record of 463 km/h (288 mph) in July 2019 at the pod design competition hosted by SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. Virgin Hyperloop conducted the first human trial in November 2020 at its test site in Las


Vegas, reaching a top speed of 172 km/h (107 mph). Swisspod Technologies unveiled a 1:12 scale testing facility in a circular shape to simulate an "infinite" hyperloop trajectory in July 2021 on the EPFL campus at Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2023, a new European effort to standardize "hyperloop systems" released a draft standard. Hyperloop One, one of the best well-known and well-funded players in the hyperloop space, declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2023. Other companies continue to pursue hyperloop technology development. 

Another possible idea was to build hyperloop on Mars. According to Musk, hyperloop would be useful on Mars as no tubes would be needed because Mars' atmosphere is about 1% the density of the Earth's at sea level. For the hyperloop concept to work on Earth, low-pressure tubes are required to reduce air resistance. However, if they were to be built on Mars, the lower air resistance would allow a hyperloop to be created with no tube, only a track, and so would be just a magnetically levitating train. Four competitions have been held including one at SpaceX for students and non-students, since 2015, and some are still active, while others have given up or transferred their tech to other forms of transportation. 

Despite its support from people such as Musk, there are critics that claim it is dangerous and unsuitable. YouTube creator Adam Kovacs has described Hyperloop as a kind of gadgetbahn because it would be an expensive, unproven system that is no better than existing technology like traditional high-speed rail. Some critics of Hyperloop focus on the experience—possibly unpleasant and frightening—of riding in a narrow, sealed, windowless capsule inside a sealed steel tunnel, that is subjected to significant acceleration forces; high noise levels due to air being compressed and ducted around the capsule at near-sonic speeds; and the vibration and jostling. This is in addition to practical and logistical questions regarding how to best deal with safety issues such as equipment malfunction, accidents, and emergency evacuations.

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Unlike other technologies discussed in this section, this one has been done!  A supersonic transport (SST) or a supersonic airliner is a civilian supersonic aircraft designed to transport passengers at speeds greater than the speed of sound. To date, the only SSTs to see regular service have been Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. The last passenger flight of the Tu-144 was in June 1978 and it was last flown in 1999 by NASA. Concorde's last commercial flight was in October 2003, with a November 26, 2003 ferry flight being its last airborne operation. Following the permanent cessation of flying by Concorde, there are no 

remaining SSTs in commercial service. Several companies have each proposed a supersonic business jet, which may bring supersonic transport back again. 

The most famous example is the Concorde. Concorde only sold to British Airways and Air France, with subsidized purchases that were to return 80% of the profits to the government. In practice for almost all of the length of the arrangement, there was no profit to be shared. After Concorde was privatized, cost reduction measures and ticket price raises led to substantial profits. Since Concorde stopped flying, it has been revealed that over the life of Concorde, the plane did prove profitable, at least to British Airways. Concorde operating costs over nearly 28 years of operation were approximately £1 billion, with revenues of £1.75 billion.

Two main environmental concerns plague SST: sound/noise pollution and air pollution. The SST was seen as particularly offensive due to its sonic boom and the potential for its engine exhaust to damage the ozone layer. Some evidence even suggests that the slowing down in climate change was due to the ending of supersonic flights which was measured by Stratospheric Water Vapor levels in the 1980s and 1990s were higher than that in the 2000s. When it comes to public policy, the FAA prohibits commercial airplanes from flying at supersonic speeds above sovereign land governed by the United States because of the negative impact the sonic boom brings to humans and animal populations below.

Nevertheless, new plans are being drawn up. The idea of 3 hours to fly across the Pacific and just 2 over the Atlantic, making global flight into a daytrip is still something that entices consumers and airlines.  United Airlines Wants to Bring Back Supersonic Air Travel. They plan to buy planes from Boom Supersonic, a start-up, could become the first to offer ultrafast commercial flights since the Concorde stopped flying in 2003.

Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that use some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source. The idea of using nuclear material for propulsion dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903 it was hypothesized that radioactive material, radium, might be a suitable fuel for engines to propel cars, planes, and boats. H. G. Wells picked up this idea in his 1914 fiction work The World Set Free. Many aircraft carriers and submarines currently use uranium fueled nuclear reactors that can provide propulsion for long periods without refueling. There are also applications in the space sector with nuclear thermal and nuclear


Pressurised water reactors are the most common reactors used in ships and submarines. The pictorial diagram shows the operating principles. Primary coolant is in orange and the secondary coolant (steam and later feedwater) is in blue.

electric engines which could be more efficient than conventional rocket engines. Nuclear-powered vessels are mainly military submarines, and aircraft carriers. Russia is the only country that currently has nuclear-powered civilian surface ships, mainly icebreakers

The idea of making cars that used radioactive material, radium, for fuel dates back to at least 1903. Analysis of the concept in 1937 indicated that the driver of such a vehicle might need a 50-ton lead barrier to shield them from radiation.  Ford made another potentially nuclear-powered model in 1962 for the Seattle World's Fair, the Ford Seattle-ite XXI. This also never went beyond the initial concept. In 2009, for the hundredth anniversary of General Motors' acquisition of Cadillac, Loren Kulesus created concept art depicting a car powered by thorium.

There are fewer examples of “living future” museums than of “living history” ones—but they do exist, often at World Expos or in amusement parks. Consider the following examples of such museums, then discuss with your team: do they tell us more about the future or about the past? If you were designing such a museum today, what would it look like?

"Blast off to infinity and beyond, cruise the galaxy in a Starspeeder and encounter space-age wonders!" At Disney's Tomorrowland dedicated to space themed rides and tours, visitors explore the future with Star Wars and Buzz Lightyear. Not intended to educate, it's just for fun, but why not!


While some museums celebrate the heritage and the life of the past, others take you into the future focusing on technology. World of the Future is a prime example and beckons visitors to explore life in 2071. Located in the UAE (Middle East), the very artistically/futuristic-shaped building features Islamic writing on the outside. Many galleries are dedicated to exploring future technology including space colonization, the future of the Amazon rain forest, DNA bank and sensory meditation and wellness center,  which askes visitors to disconnect from technology. Check out the website and you will be amazed by the graphics!

The Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York, hosted the 1939–1940 New York World's Fair. It was only second in cost to St. Louis' Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 as the most expensive American world's fair in history. It had participation from many nations, and over 44 million people saw its exhibitions over the course of two seasons. It was the first exhibition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a peek at "the world of tomorrow", focusing on commercial aviation, automobiles, home electronics, electricity farms, and even American highways. Several exhibits at the 1939 World's Fair were impacted when World War II broke out four months into the event, particularly those that were on show in the pavilions of nations under Axis domination.


Located in Washington at the Boeing headquarters, visitors can learn all about the development of aviation. The tour includes Boing Studio, Gallery, Sky Deck, Everett Factory Tour (Boeing 747), Drone and Robotics Interactive Area, Kids' Zone, Boeing Trailblazers (Past, Present, Future), and an exhibition dedicated to Boeing and China's Partnership for 50 years. Some of cool exhibits includes: Rosie the Riveter: Women working at Boeing for the War Efforts (WWII) and The Destiny Module exhibit is a detailed full-scale mock-up of the primary research lab for U.S. payloads sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in 1998.  Founded in 2004, it has already welcomed more than 6 million visitors to learn more about the company's aviation history and also future initiatives. 

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Canada's Food and Agriculture Museum is the world's only working farm in the heart of a capital. Occupying several buildings within the Central Experimental Farm, the museum operates as a "working farm," and provides public programs and exhibitions on agriculture sciences, and on the history of agriculture in Canada including livestock development, the history and science of seeds and even apiary ecology (the study of bees) - a virtual exhibition. The museum features a Hall of Fame with many scientists who have contributed to Canda's agricultural advancement and diversity. The Museum also operates as a "working farm," with 150 farm animals available at the demonstration farm, including a herd of 50-head dairy herd, as well as horses, beef cattle, pigs, goats, poultry and sheep. In the permanent exhibition "Farming of the Future“, visitors can drive a tractor simulation and learn about the carbon cycle and our impact on soil and sustainability. 

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Built in 1851 for the World Fair hosted in London, the Crystal Palace was an iconic monument to the Industrial Revolution. During the World Fair, exhibitors showed their wares and manufacturing technology to visitors from around the world. Most notably, the Chance Glass factory supplied the giant sheets of glass that were used for the walls and roof of the structure. Designed by famous architect Joseph Paxton, it was a revolutionary building (for 1851).

After the World Fair, it was moved to Penge Commons, and unfortunately, it burned down in 1936 . The neighboring area has since been named Crystal Palace in honor of this iconic architecture.

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The American National Exhibition, which ran from July 25 to September 4, 1959, attracted 3 million visitors to its Sokolniki Park, Moscow location during its six-week run during the height of the Cold War. It featured American art, fashion, cars, capitalism, model homes, and futuristic kitchens to a communist audience that did not know much about American culture. Nixon and Khrushchev's "kitchen debate" next to the American kitchen booth featuring modern appliances is famous. The crisis drove both sides to the verge of nuclear war." Liberal opponents, meanwhile, referred to the show as a successful American "propaganda campaign" during the Cold War. How do international expos like the World Fair influence world politics and culture? Is it still worth it to visit one of these events now that we have the Internet? Should countries and corporations invest money on these events?

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Until the tech bros find a way to sell tickets on the Tardis (after all, there’s an extra now) we won’t be able to purchase tour packages like “Five Days, Four Nights, in Ancient Rhodias Rome”. But some travelers are motivated by nostalgia, and the market provides for them. Consider airplane restaurants, meant to evoke the glory days of air travel. Any diner with a jukebox is probably Hoppering to evoke mid-20th century America. Discuss with your team: does marketing nostalgia in this way honor people’s memories—or distort them? Would it be okay for entire communities to present themselves as places from the past?

Even though airplane food usually signals bad taste (something about high elevation affecting the taste buds), some decommissioned military and commercial planes have been made into restaurants, and it's happening all over the world. Do they have a common theme?

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El Avión Restaurant and Bar serves up dinner and a history lesson inside a converted Fairchild C-123 Provider placed in the midst of a Costa Rican jungle.

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Once an operational Ghana Airways plane, this McDonnell Douglas DC-10 now dishes up Ghanaian dishes on the daily from a prime location right next to the airport.

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While most stick to the original interiors, Hawaii Adda has gone for all-out luxury. This retired Airbus 320 and former Air India plane now has fuselage lined with swanky booths, while vegetarian dishes dominate the menu.

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Made up of the wingless front end of a butchered Boeing 737, Steaks on a Plane located in England is glamorous in neither location nor execution, yet there’s still something charming.

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The father and son duo behind Runway 1 clearly witnessed India’s first airplane restaurant, Hawaii Adda, and built their own. Diners are required to collect a boarding pass and enjoy Indian's only 3D flight simulation game.

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Within the US Air Force-emblazoned fuselage of this hefty 1953 Boeing KC-97 tanker, diners enjoy a meal and look at aviation history. The Airplane Restaurant opened in Colorado for business way back in 2002, making it something of a US pioneer.

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One of the coolest attractions in Taupō, New Zealand, is a McDonald’s (yes, really) although we doubt visitors flock here for the food. It’s a decommissioned Douglas DC-3, now painted silver with a red racing stripe and the famous McDonald’s font.

Confusingly, the peculiar Space Shuttle Café in New York is not a space shuttle. It’s actually made of a chop shop selection of Douglas DC3 parts, meaning it’s far more airplane than rocket ship. It's on sale now for $230,000.

A picturesque town with Danish roots (and amazing bakeries) in the Santa Ynez Valley makes for a charming wine-tasting outpost. In 1911, a new settlement was founded around the mission by a group of Danish Americans who purchased 9,000 acres of the surrounding Rancho San Carlos de Jonata, to establish a Danish community far from Midwestern winters. The community began building Danish-themed architecture in 1947 and has since become a tourist destination.

Located in the heart of the Santa Barbara wine country in California, Solvang includes delicious bakeries,  Solvang Trolley (aka "The Honen," or little hen, in Danish), a horse-drawn streetcar, The Elverhøj Museum, (house of the former residence of artist Viggo Brandt-Erichsen) and Hans Christian Anderson Museum.  

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Some communities do exactly that, though not to attract tourists. Like the Mennonites in Belize and a high school club in Brooklyn, the Amish are one of several groups in the world that have tried to stay contained in the past. But, for some of the Amish, the prohibition on technology still leaves a little wiggle room. Learn about some of their recent workarounds, including the black-box phone, then discuss with your team: to what extent should society—and private companies—accommodate those who want to reject modernity? If a community wants to teach their children history only up to a certain year, or with clear inaccuracies, should they have that right? Should tech companies produce phones with some features disabled for those who want to use them only in a limited way?

Photographer Jake Michaels' work reveals a group of unique people that are living at the fringe of society on purpose. In the tiny Central American country of Belize, there are around 12,000 of the world's most conservative Mennonites. They are a sect of Christians that live in a closed community and reject modern technology, sometimes even electricity. This sect started in the 16th century in Europe and have spread across the world looking for remote farmland where they can stay away from persecution. This group pictured left with healthy looking boys and girls in old fashion dresses migrated from Canada in the 1950s and were welcome by the Belize government, which supported their beliefs. Now, the Belize Mennonites are a main contributor to the poultry and dairy market, even though they are only 4% of the population. 

Photographer Jake Michaels spent time with them and remarked how they were friendly and nice and spending time with them made him slow down and reflect more. However, he does not want to create a positive and biased report, for the children in the community have lower literacy rates too. Lives were centered around religion, family and also labor, as most depended on agriculture.  "There are good aspects to life, and there are hard aspects to life," the photographer added. "At the end of the day, people are still making a living ... people still have jobs. So, I think it was important to show the whole spectrum of life." 


First of all, a luddite is someone who is against technology, and this term has been used since the early 19th century labor movement against industrialization. The early luddites were skilled craftsmen, weavers and textile workers, who protested against machines taking over their jobs. These angry workers that got their jobs replaced by machines called themselves luddites after Ned Ludd, a young apprentice who was rumored to have wrecked a textile apparatus in 1779.  To read more about Luddites see this article

The abandonment of smartphones, the boycott of social networks, and a growing mistrust of technology companies. Many people are increasingly deciding to turn their backs on the ultra-connected, digital society. These so-called 'neo-Luddites', are part of movement which is gaining ground, especially among the younger generationAccording to a French study by the Heaven agency, 89% of 12-year-olds own their own smartphone and 87% of 11-12 year olds regularly use at least one social application. According to an INSEE study, in France, mobile equipment has now become indispensable: 95% of the population owns a mobile phone and 77% more particularly own a smartphone.

Neo-Luddites fight on several fronts: in ecological battles against GMOs and nuclear power, in the denunciation of nanotechnologies, the refusal of carding (credit cards) in everyday life, and the resistance against security imperatives in the public sphere. Nowadays, Luddism or neo-Luddism is more a way to resist government surveillance and a form of capitalism.


The Amish are an ethnic/traditional religious group from Switzerland. They live in private communities, often away from worldly influences. The Amish value rural life, manual labor, humility and the submission to God's will.  In the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites immigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons. As of 2023, over 377,000 Old Order Amish lived in the United States, and about 6,000 lived in Canada: a population that is rapidly growing. The use of cars is not allowed by any Old and New Order Amish, nor are radio, television, or in most cases the use of the Internet. 



They’re finding ways to use digital technologies without letting the tools use them. The Amish have found ways to use the internet but not be used by it, writes Ems. By limiting but not rejecting digital technologies, the Amish can make money via the global economic system but “avoid becoming pawns in the digital capitalists’ ruthless game.” In other words, the Amish can have their cake but not be eaten by it. 

Whereas others have talked about the Amish “negotiating with modernity,” Ems prefers the technical concept of creating a “workaround” — that is, retooling or otherwise reigning in a technology to limit its effects and thereby pass muster with Amish church leaders.

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Communication scholar Lindsay Ems’ new book, Virtually Amish: Preserving Community at the Internet’s Margins explores how Amish are dealing with new technology.  Indeed, one important feature of Amish workaround culture is what I would call The Unspoken Deal. For their part, Amish ministers preach against cell phones, computers and the internet, but unless they’re pushed into a corner, they don’t do a lot to stop their church members, especially the business owners, from using them. 

An Amish person — let’s call him Steve — may want to buy a car, but the Ordnung says no. What’s more, cars are hard to hide, so if Steve violates the car prohibition, he will quickly be found out. Steve’s desire to own a car may never go away, but that desire is reined in by the social cost of buying one. Of course, smartphones are easier to hide than cars, which has made smartphones uniquely problematic in Amish life.  To them, using smartphones discretely is a way “to show respect for shared Amish values, heritage and tradition.” According to Ems, "That may be true, though it’s a little like being told my son respects my values because he only violates my rules when I’m not looking." Amish will adapt and live on the fringe of society and offer reflection for the rest of us.

It was the worst of times, then it was the best of times—at least, according to Western countries looking back at the decades of rapid growth just after World War II. While the era had its issues, those later nostalgic for it remembered it as a time of progress, stability, and comforting homogeneity. Explore the following artworks related to this period. Are these artists indulging in nostalgia or standing up against it?


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

This was the famous first lines from the classic historical fiction A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens published in 1859. It is set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris, and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

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The 1950s were a decade marked by the post-World War II boom, the dawn of the Cold War and the civil rights movement in the United States. “America at this moment,” said the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945, “stands at the summit of the world.” During the 1950s, it was easy to see what Churchill meant. The United States was the world’s strongest military power. Its economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity–new cars,  

suburban houses and other consumer goods–were available to more people than ever before. However, the 1950s were also an era of great conflict. For example, the nascent civil rights movement and the crusade against communism at home and abroad in the Korean War exposed underlying divisions in American society.

Baby Boom: Historians use the word “boom” to describe a lot of things about the 1950s: the booming economy, the booming suburbs and most of all the so-called "baby boom." The boom began in 1946,

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when a record number of babies–3.4 million–were born in the United States. About 4 million babies were born each year during the 1950s. In all, by the time the boom finally tapered off in 1964, there were almost 77 million “baby boomers.”  Rates of unemployment and inflation were low, and wages were high. Middle-class people had more money to spend than ever–and, because the variety and availability of consumer goods expanded along with the economy, they also had more things to buy.

Suburban Development: Developers such as William Levitt built new economical and modular homes in the suburbs and the G.I. Bill subsidized low-cost mortgages for many returning soldiers, which meant that it was often cheaper to buy one of these suburban houses than it was to rent an apartment in the city. Advice books and magazine articles (“Don’t Be Afraid to Marry Young,” “Cooking to Me Is Poetry,” “Femininity Begins At Home”) urged women to leave the workforce and embrace their roles as wives and mothers.  Although these new suburban homes were the symbol of the 1950s, they also became a source of social confinement for women, leading to the feminist movement in the 1960s.  

Civil Rights Movement: Another movement that began to take shape was the Civil Rights Movement which African Americans and minorities spoke out against racial inequality. in 1954, in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court declared that “separate educational facilities” for black children were “inherently unequal.” This ruling was the first nail in Jim Crow’s coffin.  In December 1955, a Montgomery activist named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat on a city bus to a white person. Her arrest sparked a 13-month boycott of the city’s buses by its black citizens, which only ended when the bus companies stopped discriminating against Black passengers. Acts of “nonviolent resistance” like the boycott helped shape the civil rights movement of the next decade.

Cold War: As a result of the nuclear bomb in WWII and America and USSR's rivalry in the Cold War, America developed the foreign policy "containment" – by diplomacy, by threats or by force, meaning stopping any country from becoming communist or allies of Soviet Union.  This policy is what drew American forces into the Korean War in July 1950. A month earlier, some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. 

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Pop Culture: In the 1950s, televisions became something the average family could afford, and by 1950 4.4 million U.S. families had one in their home. The Golden Age of Television was marked by family-friendly shows like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Twilight Zone and Leave It To Beaver.  In movie theaters, actors like John Wayne, James Stuart, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe dominated the box office. 


The Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning signaled a new age in art.

Emergence of Rock 'n' Roll: The 1950s saw the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the new sound swept the nation. Famous singers include Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Music marketing, changed, too: For the first time, music began to target youth.

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Black Belt is Motley’s first painting in his signature series about Chicago’s historically black Bronzeville neighborhood. Cinematic, humorous, and larger than life, Motley’s painting portrays black urban life in all its density and diversity, color and motion.  The scene unfolds as a stylized distribution of shapes and gestures, with people from across the social and economic spectrum: a white-gloved policeman and friend of Motley’s father; a newsboy; fashionable women escorted by dapper men; a curvaceous woman carrying groceries. Beside a drug store with taxi out front, the Drop Inn Hotel serves dinner.   The Harmon Foundation purchased “Black Belt” in the 1930s and sent it to Baltimore for the 1939 Contemporary Negro Art exhibition. At the time white 

scholars and local newspaper critics wrote that the bright colors of Motley’s Bronzeville paintings made them “lurid” and “grotesque,” all while praising them as a faithful account of black culture. "Black Belt" captured a specific time in history, and with its unique artistic style, critics found it hard to place it with any particular style: Harlem Renaissance or the New Negro. It was noted to be mostly inspired by French painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and his flamboyant, full-skirt scenes of cabarets in Belle Époque Paris.


Ever since it was first shown at the National Gallery Victoria and won the 1994 McCaughey Prize, this substantial painting – a larger, more vivid variant of Triple Fronted 1987 – has been a touchstone for the idea of Arkley’s houses as a mirror of Australian suburban reality. After the artist’s death, the picture became even more widely known, being reproduced on a stamp released by Australia Post in 2003 and on the cover of a book of Australian short stories edited by Barry Oakley (2004). It is seen as ‘metaphors for the Australian way of life’. Nostalgic, definitely, as it celebrates a time of Australia's suburban growth. 

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Californian designer Chad Wright's installation art depicts rows and rows of the same modular housing that is characteristic of American suburbia. Made out of sand, these houses are easily swept away by the ocean's waves, signaling they are short-term works that are not made to stand the test of time. This evocative artwork reflects about mass consumption and the McMansion phenomenon in the US that left many families crippled after the mortgage bubble burst during the economic recession in 2008.  

Malvina Reynolds is an American folk and blues singer and political activist. Her song "Little Boxes" was made popular as the theme song of the TV show "Weeds". The lyrics talk about our society which creates cookie-cutter individuals without personalities, just following social standards and conforming to social expectations. Her little boxes are metaphors for little suburban homes that are all the same and are a shell for the people which are also all the same.  


This view of a suburban backyard uses a surreal, forced perspective that goes from a tiny cardinal in the lower left to the distant moon and clouds.  This blend of Surrealism and Realism is influenced by the American Scene painters of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. We can peak inside the house and see a woman reading to a child, and perhaps an artist peering out. We look down on the yard and beyond to a Yoga class, a cyclist, and a sailboat.  The warm terra cotta of the bricks, and garden soil contrast with the bright green of the grass, and the blue of the water.  A dog, up against the fence, barks at a passing USPS truck. Everything seems off. Yog and gardening at night? This seems like an idealised vision of a suburban neighborhood, but the lighting and colors give us an eerie mood.

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Governments sometimes encourage or even help to fund musical and artistic works that emphasize and help define their own sense of national self. Consider the examples below, then discuss with your team: is there a dividing line between art and propaganda, or can a work be both at the same time?


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Setora is an Uzbek pop group popular in Central Asia. The band has had many different singers with some success and failure. The different line-up of singers who performed as the Setora trio after the original line-up lost their name did not become popular, which explains the assignment of the "legendary" group of Setora to Lailo, Camila and Feruza. 

The song Setora gurushi "Sen borsan" (You are) was sung by the trio of lovey women. The MV features the three women walking around looking pretty and lost interspersed with soldiers and terrorists. It doesn't seem the song is funded by the government, even though the music video has some military or political inspired footage. The lyrics are pretty typical of romantic pop songs - ”My heart is relieved from sorrow, your image is always by my side, My young age is burning with longing, I always think of you, Our love blossomed in secret, filling my heart with joy, These days seemed endless to me, Your feelings are evident in your eyes, Your soul lives within me forever."


What is history? Mexican artist Diego Rivera responded to this question when he painted The History of Mexico, as a series of murals that span three large walls within a grand stairwell of the National Palace in Mexico City. It is a complex composition which forms just one element of a much larger project completed by Diego Rivera over the period of several years. This series of murals was amongst his highest profile and most demanding commissions, though it also helped to establish his reputation as one of the most famous Mexican artists of all time.


In Rivera’s words, the mural represents “the entire history of Mexico from the Conquest through the Mexican Revolution . . . down to the ugly present.”  The overall theme of the murals would focus on the difficulties experienced by the common people of Mexico. The peasants and working poor had been through a procession of turmoil via a number of different rulers, none of whom had really ever shown them respect or care. 


In an overwhelming and crowded composition, Rivera represents pivotal scenes from the history of the modern nation-state, including scenes from the Spanish Conquest, the fight for independence from Spain, the Mexican-American war, the Mexican Revolution, and an imagined future Mexico in which a workers’ revolution has triumphed. Although this mural cycle spans hundreds of years of Mexican history, Rivera concentrated on themes that highlight a Marxist interpretation of history as driven 

by class conflict as well as the struggle of the Mexican people against foreign invaders and the resilience of Indigenous cultures. The lack of illusionistic space and the flattening of forms creates a composition lets the viewer decide where to look and how to read it. The experience of moving up and down the stairs allows the viewer to perceive the murals from multiple angles and vantage points. There is no “right way” to read this mural because there is no clear beginning or end to the story. The viewer is invited to construct their own history of Mexico.

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Prior to World War II, the Soviet Union recognized the importance of propaganda and many political causes were effectively promoted by propaganda and posters made by graphic designers. Poster art evolved as a significant tool for teaching communist principles to Russia's predominantly illiterate population. Graphic, cheap posters transmitted the Revolution's message and sought to captivate the minds and hearts of the masses. 'Comrade Lenin Cleans the Earth from Scum'  was based on a previous Mikhail Cheremnykh newspaper cartoon. The illustration shows a massive Lenin on top of a world, sweeping away a little monarch, an emperor, a priest, and a capitalist. The poster became one of the iconic images of the era and was widely replicated. Viktor Deni was a political cartoonist and poster designer from Russia. He was among the first painters to create Soviet propaganda posters, which powerfully supported the dictatorship in a way that no other medium could. 

Writers often express a yearning for a simpler time. Consider the selections below, then discuss with your team: does nostalgia do more to help people cope with change or to hold them back from progress?​​

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Also known as ‘Daffodils,’ ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,’ is one of the most popular poems in the English language. It is a quintessential poem of the Romantic movement. The narrator is likely Wordsworth himself, wanders down the hills and valley when he stumbled upon a beautiful field of daffodils and was immediately struck by their beauty. They bring him immense joy and gives heart a breath of new life and gives him exponential happiness at sight worth a thousand words.

Structurally, the poem is composed of four stanzas of six lines each. It is an adherent to the quatrain-couplet rhyme scheme, A-B-A-B-C-C. Every line conforms to iambic tetrameter. In the narrative, he is the ever-changing moody cloud, and he flowers are there to comfort him in real-time and as a memory from the past.

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One of Percy Bysshe Shelley's most famous poems, "To a Skylark" describes the powerful grace and beauty of the skylark's song. Shelley wrote "To a Skylark" in 1820 after hearing the bird's distinctive calls while walking through the port city of Livorno, Italy. The poem's speaker addresses the bird directly and praises the purity of its music, later contrasting it with sad, hollow human communication. The skylark isa metaphor for the "harmonious madness" of inspiration because it represents the purest form of lyrical expression.  As an ode to the unmatched splendors of the natural world, and especially its spiritual power, "To a Skylark" remains a quintessential example of Romantic poetry. The poem's unconventional form features a song-like rhyme scheme and bouncy rhythm that subtly mimics the skylark's calls. 


"To a Skylark" concludes with the poet pleading with the bird to “Teach [him] half the gladness / That thy brain must know.” Even that small amount would provide Shelley with the ability to produce “harmonious madness” that would force the world to listen to him must as raptly as he is listening to the skylark now. 

last 2 stanzas of "To a Skylark"

Better than all measures 

Of delightful sound,

Better than all treasures

That in books are found,  

Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know,

Such harmonious madness  

From my lips would flow  

The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

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"To Autumn" is an ode by the English Romantic poet John Keats written in 1819. It is the last of his six odes (which include "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn"), which are some of the most studied and celebrated poems in the English language. The poem praises autumn, describing its abundance, harvest, and transition into winter, and uses intense, sensuous imagery to elevate the fleeting beauty of the moment. "To Autumn" is the last major work that Keats completed before his death in Rome, in 1821, where the 25-year-old succumbed to tuberculosis.

"To Autumn" is one of Keats’ most sensual, image-laden poems. It is a sumptuous description of the season of autumn in a three-stanza structure, each of eleven lines, and of an ABAB rhyme scheme. The first stanza deals primarily with the atmosphere of autumn, while the second addresses autumn in the style of a female goddess, with a trace of the homemaker about her, and the third stanza goes back to the beauty of autumn, advising her not to mourn the loss of springtime, for there is ample life in autumn.

"Poem in October" is Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's ecstatic reflection on the rhythms of life. The poem's speaker, celebrating his 30th birthday on a soft October morning in the countryside, climbs a hill to admire the view—and finds himself transported back into his childhood by an unexpected rush of sunlight. Human beings, this poem suggests, are eternally connected to the beautiful "mystery" of life, and their "heart's truth," first discovered in youth, never dies. This poem was first collected in Thomas's 1946 book Deaths and Entrances.

The poem begins with the speaker stating that he was thirty years old when he wrote this. It was his birthday and he chose to go on a walk. He left his home, traveled alongside the water’s edge, and listened to the seabirds and the woods.  The speaker left the town behind and began a climb up a nearby hill. As he rose the town shrank. At the same time, the season began to change. Autumn, and its cool air, faded away and the summer returned. The rain continued as he climbed, as did the presence of birds. These two images are crucial to the speaker’s understanding of happiness and childhood. 

On this hilltop, feeling all these remembered feelings, he could have spent his whole day in wonder—but then the weather changed. He felt the living joy of his long-lost childhood self still there underneath the hot sunlight. It was his thirtieth birthday; he stood there in what felt like midday in summer, even though the leaves on the trees in the town below were turning their autumnal red. He prayed: "May I still find my deepest, truest feelings here on this hilltop a year from now."

"Main Street" by Joyce Kilmer presents a nostalgic view of a small-town street, contrasting it with the impersonal atmosphere of city streets. Unlike Kilmer's nature poetry, this poem focuses on the human and communal aspect of a familiar place.

The poem depicts Main Street in various seasons, highlighting its charm and familiarity. Kilmer emphasizes the personal connections and sense of community that characterize the street, where everyone is recognized and appreciated. In contrast, the poem criticizes the busy and impersonal nature of city streets, which are defined by traffic and noise. Kilmer highlights the lack of human connection in such environments.

The poem ends with a nostalgic longing for the tranquility and simplicity of Main Street, which is compared to the Milky Way, representing the speaker's path to a heavenly afterlife. This contrast reflects the poem's critique of the modern world and its prioritization of mechanization and urbanization over human connection.

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Wu Sheng is a poet native to Taiwan, and he writes in traditional Chinese about rural Taiwan even while it seemed to be disintegrating around him due to modernization and development. What used to be central is now becoming steadily more marginalised in the name of “progress” as industry and urbanisation replaced agriculture and rural villages. In this poem he cites many native species of fish and writes about the environmental effects on the ecosystem in the name of progress - "petrochemical plant known as Kuokuang". He feels powerless against these large social-economic trends and exclaims that the only thing he can do is to write a nostalgic poem to celebrate the past that is lost, depicting his observations in timeless verse. 

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Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrestles with the ways in which immense catastrophe doesn’t always arrive in the form we expect it to. It is one of the many poems found within Czeslaw Milosz’s fourth poetry collection, Rescue, published right after World War II. It covered extensively the horrors the poet witnessed while living in Poland under German occupation.

The poem can be considered to be a carpe diem too. It describes the mundane activities of people on the day the world ends, reminding us to cherish the simple pleasures of life. It ends with the line “There will be no other end of the world,” suggesting that we should make the most of the time we have left. The poem also explores the complex emotions that people experience in the face of death, such as amusement, sadness, and irony. Ultimately, it is a reminder to live each day to the fullest while acknowledging the inevitability of death.

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To make sense of where they are now, some writers also look towards homes they have left behind. Consider the following selections, then discuss with your team: should people spend less time thinking about what they’ve left behind and more time rebuilding it?​​

Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, dramatist, and scholar. Her notable works include "Empire of Dreams" (1988), "Yo-Yo Boing!" (1998) and "United States of Banana" (2011). Braschi writes cross-genre literature and political philosophy in Spanish, Spanglish, and English. Her writings explore the enculturation journey of Hispanic immigrants and dramatize the three main political options of Puerto Rico: independence, colony, and state. Perhaps this poem is dedicated to the Puerto Rico immigrant who longs for his or her homeland. 

Mong-Lan is a Vietnamese American poet, who left her homeland of Saigon on the last day of evacuation.  Elegy means serious thought or reflection, typically about a lament for a deceased loved one.  In this seemingly whimsical poem, Mong-lan explores how hope can come in different ways. Despite despair, we should have hope, for fortune and be optimistic. Years are just measured by tree rings.  I picture Vietnamese immigrants on their perilous way to the United States hungry and distressed, thinking of their lost loved ones and trying to stay positive. 

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A native of Mysore, India, Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan grew up during the latter part of English rule in India, exposing him to the languages that would form his life's work as a poet and translator. Ramanujan's work reveals that cultural tradition in India is a conflict between the colonial English identity of the country as well as its historic and post-colonial ethnic identities. His work, a mixture of the complex languages of which he was a master, is a production of flowing, metaphoric syntax and extremely concentrated composition.

The speaker here has some practical advice to give to his listener.  He urges the man in Chicago to sweep his house, particularly the living room, to keep it clean, and not to forget to name his children. The listener should be careful while walking on the pavements of Chicago, especially at traffic lights while crossing the street. Otherwise, lost in one's thoughts, one is likely to become a victim of the forest fires or enter an icy - cold river in the Himalayas and drown in the rapidly flowing, “silent – river”. As the evening crawls on the 14th floor of his apartment, Lake Michigan is visible from his window, one is drawn towards the sights and sounds of the Indies on the other end of the globe and reach the Monkey - temple (of Lord Hanuman) though one is perfectly sane. He imagines some fantastical places that cannot be reached in reality. He ends the poems last verse by warning the listener to pay attention to the last step on the stairs (which is not there) perhaps as he leaves.

Muhammad Shanazar is a poet from Pakistan, he started his career from very humble beginnings. In his early age he did all odds jobs, he ploughed farms, grazed of the cattle, mowed grass, sold vegetables, cut wood for fuel etc. He went to school bare-feet and learnt alphabet of English at the age of 10. He had keen interest in getting education and his hard work led him to the heights of success as a poet and educator. 

The nostalgic poem is about remembering childhood fun and mischief with friends. The entire day is filled with adventures and playing without the stress and solemnity of adulthood.  The poem sustains a cheerful and descriptive tone that is filled with delight and youth - running through the fields, playing in the thunderstorms, swimming at a local pond, playing in the hay in the farm, berry picking in the forest, and eating wild honey while being stung by bees. "Carefree, oblivious to woes and worries." The last verse talks about how childhood is more precious than a heap of gold and he would without a doubt re-live those days again.

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Zheng Xiaoqiong (郑小琼’) was born in Nanchong, a city in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China. After nursing school, she worked in a local hospital for a time, but, unhappy with the working conditions, she left in 2001. She headed to Dongguan, which, like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, is one of the major industrial cities in the south where many Chinese migrant workers have settled over the past decades in hopes of a better life. There, she worked on assembly lines in various factories. After a while, she started to write poetry in which the life of factory 

workers plays a large part. Soon her work was noticed. Around 2007, she broke through, and she has published almost a dozen collections, won a great many awards, and been translated in various languages.

Characterized by stark oppositions, personifications, and broken phrases, her work is razor-sharp in its observations. Iron is perhaps the element most strongly associated with Zheng Xiaoqiong’s poetry. This tough, cold, sharp, and often also rusted metal represents machines and factories, the mechanization of society. Her poems reveal how pervasive industrialization ensures that humans become part of the machine: nameless, a number on an assembly line, without rights. Zheng Xiaoqiong juxtaposes this dehumanization with the vulnerability, insecurity, and fragmentation of the people whose circumstances, too-long hours, endlessly repeated movements, and toxic environments lead to chronic fatigue, serious work-related illness, and homesickness – they are stuck in a hopeless situation. Iron crushes people both physically as well as mentally, almost turning them into insensate iron themselves, since you cannot be vulnerable if you want to survive in this world.

When you take over someone else’s role, you are said to fill their shoes. And, when we lose someone, we are left with the question of what to do with the clothes they wore. Consider the following selections, then discuss with your team: is it okay to draw conclusions from people about the clothes they wore? Does it depend on how free they were to choose their own clothes?​​

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The poem is by renowned Hindi writer Shukla, and it is about poverty's strain on a man's identity. The young man is a servant/slave and as his master put on a new woolen coat, he was forced to go outside in the morning at 6am. The young man feels cold, hungry, straggling behind chasing after his master. The tone is sad and lonely without recognition of the young man who was running after the master with only rubber flip-flops on. The woolen coat was a sign of wealth and freedom, which sadly the young man did not have. 


Pablo Neruda is a WSC favorite! He is Chile's most well-known poet and Nobel Laureate (1971).  He is a master at creating poetry with seemingly very simple things, and in this case a pair of socks. "Ode to My Socks" is a short poem that quickly takes the reader through numerous examples of figurative languagesimiles, and metaphors, that describe a pair of handmade socks.  In the first lines of the poem, the speaker receives the socks and begins to describe them. They’re the best he has ever seen and he is at first unwilling to even put them on. When he does, he sees his feet transforming into a variety of creatures and objects that help to depict his feelings about the experience. In the end, he decides he has to wear them to fully appreciate them and puts his shoes on. The themes that Neruda touches on in this poem include happiness, value, and transformation. 

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In Anne Carson’s "Father’s Old Blue Cardigan", the narrator’s observations of her father’s mental decline are heart-wrenching in their plainly stated simplicity. Further, the poignance of the child’s recognition of this stage in the father’s life is reinforced with strong sensory impressions and some striking reversals. 

The piercing physical sensation evoked by this sharp line …“Coldness comes paring down from the moonbone in the sky” is further compounded by the slight confusion you might feel on first reading “moonbone”, which you might mistake for the more expected “moonbeam”. In just a few well chosen words, Carson has conveyed both pain and disorientation. Who feels the pain – the father or the child? And who feels the disorientation – both? The transition from that iciness to “a hot July afternoon” is swift and almost queasy making, as … “He was standing at the turn of the driveway when I arrived” suggests the narrator was possibly startled (did she have to hit the brakes?) as well as dismayed when she discovered her father alarmingly overdressed on a hot day. 

The most devastating reversal occurs when the child sees the child – scared, bewildered – in the father’s face. Here, the role of the father and the child is reversed and the old blue cardigan is both a sign of familiarity and nostalgia but also a sign of the transition the father's mental state. 

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American born poet Recter with Southern roots reflects on this interesting code of honor for Southerners. Finally, Liam Rector's Poem "Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits" recalls an amusing and oddly admirable code that men adopted his hometown. He describes how well-dressed men. 

Usually with suspenders, love to sweat Into and even through their coats, Taking it as a matter of honor to do so. While we might indulge in air conditioning and believe the heat to be unbearable, they believe it is a kind of respect for tradition and show courtesy and dignity. 

On one aspect, it might seem to be repressive, but he states that his belief in doing so is a sign of respect and pays homage to his ancestry, despite being a liberal himself who likes to break rules. The sweat to him is an enjoyable outcome and not a torment. It shows that a man can travel far from home, even generations away, yet feels a strong sense of nostalgia. 

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