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Time Machines: The Past, the Future, and How Stories Take Us There

27 May 2017 - 3 September 2017

Palace Green Library

How big is time? And what will the future be like? 

The sheer enormity of time is a mind-bending concept - one which humans have always tried to measure and understand. This exhibition invited visitors to step through a portal and journey through time to learn how advances in science allowed authors like HG Wells to write about parallel universes, alternate histories and future worlds. 

The exhibition explored how stories can make us into time travellers and included HG Wells’s original manuscript for The Time Machine. The book, which was published in 1895, remains one of the most important stories in the science fiction and time travel genres and was loaned from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Advances in scientific knowledge by the likes of Darwin and Einstein and their influence on literature were explored, as well as human beings’ unique capacity for mental time travel through memory and imagination of the future. 

This exhibition was accompanied by a series of podcasts featuring the team of academics from Durham University's Department of English Studies, whose research informed the exhibition content. Follow the links below to listen to the podcasts: 

You can also enjoy a video tour of the exhibition. 

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