The Lecture is arranged with support from Literature as a Leading Research Area at Stockholm University.

About Catherine Gallagher

Catherine Gallagher is the Eggers Professor of English Literature, Emerita, at the University of California at Berkeley. Her books include The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: 1832-67 (1985), Nobody’s Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Literary Marketplace (1994), and The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel (2006). Her book on the history of counterfactual history will appear this Spring from Chicago University Press.  


Historical “What-if” scenarios abound in our current political and cultural discourse, and this talk attempts to explain where they came from and how they rose to prominence. It traces the history of such counterfactual historical thinking from its eighteenth-century roots in religious debates, moral philosophy, and military sciences to its present-day applications in economic, diplomatic, and political history, as well as international relations, literature, and post-Cold-War historical justice movements.