Examining the complex relationships between the political, popular, sexual, and textual interests of Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, Lauren Berlant argues that Hawthorne mounted a sophisticated challenge to America's collective fantasy of national unity. She shows how Hawthorne's idea of citizenship emerged from an attempt to adjudicate among the official and the popular, the national and the local, the collective and the individual, utopia and history.
At the core of Berlant's work is a three-part study of The Scarlet Letter, analyzing the modes and effects of national identity that characterize the narrator's representation of Puritan culture and his construction of the novel's political present tense. This analysis emerges from an introductory chapter on American citizenship in the 1850s and a following chapter on national fantasy, ranging from Hawthorne's early work "Alice Doane's Appeal" to the Statue of Liberty. In her conclusion, Berlant suggests that Hawthorne views everyday life and local political identities as alternate routes to the revitalization of the political and utopian promises of modern national life.
Although Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries never called themselves Utopians—believing strictly in a science of revolution, they considered Utopians to be merely dreamers—they were enormously inspired by the grand humanitarian aims of the French Revolution of 1789. Taking up this French revolutionary agenda and reinforcing it with German philosophy, Russians formed a beautiful vision in which an imaginary theology blended with a premier role for art.
Arc of Utopia offers a fresh look at these German philosophical origins of the Russian Revolution. In the book, Lesley Chamberlain explains how influential German philosophers like Kant, Schiller, and Hegel were dazzled by contemporary events in Paris, and how this led a century later to an explosion of art and philosophy in the Russian streets, with a long-repressed people reinventing liberty, equality, and fraternity in their own cultural image. Chamberlain examines how some of the greatest Russian names of the nineteenth-century—from Alexander Herzen to Mikhail Bakunin, Ivan Turgenev to Fyodor Dostoevsky—defined their visions for Russia in relationship to their views on German enthusiasm for revolutionary France.
With the centenary of the Russian Revolution approaching, Arc of Utopia is an important and timely revisioning of this tumultuous moment in history.
Automating technologies threaten to usher in a workless future, but John Danaher argues that this can be a good thing. A world without work may be a kind of utopia, free of the misery of the job and full of opportunities for creativity and exploration. If we play our cards right, automation could be the path to idealized forms of human flourishing.
Winner of the 2018 Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Brazil Section Book Prize
In 1982, the Brazilian Air Force arrived on the Alcântara peninsula to build a state-of-the-art satellite launch facility. They displaced some 1,500 Afro-Brazilians from coastal land to inadequate inland villages, leaving many more threatened with displacement. Completed in 1990, this vast undertaking in one of Brazil’s poorest regions has provoked decades of conflict and controversy.
Constellations of Inequality tells this story of technological aspiration and the stark dynamics of inequality it laid bare. Sean T. Mitchell analyzes conflicts over land, ethnoracial identity, mobilization among descendants of escaped slaves, military-civilian competition in the launch program, and international intrigue. Throughout, he illuminates Brazil’s changing politics of inequality and examines how such inequality is made, reproduced, and challenged. How people conceptualize and act on the unequal conditions in which they find themselves, he shows, is as much a cultural and historical matter as a material one. Deftly broadening our understanding of race, technology, development, and political consciousness on local, national, and global levels, Constellations of Inequality paints a portrait of contemporary Brazil that will interest a broad spectrum of readers.
Why do modern people assume that there will be perpetual economic growth? Because, David W. Noble tells us in this provocative study of cultural criticism, such a utopian conviction is the necessary foundation for bourgeois culture. One can imagine the existence of modern middle classes only as long as the capitalist marketplace is expanding. For Noble, the related—and relevant—question is, how can the middle classes believe that a finite earth is an environment in which infinite growth is possible? The answer, which Noble so painstakingly charts, is nothing less than a genealogy of the uses and abuses of knowledge that lie at the heart of so many of our political problems today.
As far back as Plato and as recently as Alan Greenspan, Noble finds proponents of the idea of a world of independent, rational individuals living in timeless simplicity, escaping from an old world of interdependence and generations. Such notions, although in sync with Newtonian science, have come up against the subsequent conclusions of geology, biology, and the physics of Einstein. In a survey of the responses to this quandary of historians, economists, literary critics, and ecologists, Noble reveals how this confrontation, and its implications for a single global marketplace, has forced certain academic disciplines into unnatural—and untenable—positions.
David Noble’s work exposes the cost—not academic at all—of the segregation of the physical sciences from the humanities and social sciences, even as it demonstrates the required movement of the humanities toward the ecological vision of a single, interconnected world.
Covering works by popular figures like Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst as well as less familiar English composers, Eric Saylor's pioneering book examines pastoral music's critical, theoretical, and stylistic foundations alongside its creative manifestations in the contexts of Arcadia, war, landscape, and the Utopian imagination. As Saylor shows, pastoral music adapted and transformed established musical and aesthetic conventions that reflected the experiences of British composers and audiences during the early twentieth century. By approaching pastoral music as a cultural phenomenon dependent on time and place, Saylor forcefully challenges the body of critical opinion that has long dismissed it as antiquated, insular, and reactionary.
The "free love" Oneida Community, founded in New York state during the turbulent decades before the Civil War, practiced an extraordinary system of "complex marriage" as part of its sustained experiment in creating the kingdom of heaven on earth. For more than thirty years, two hundred adult members considered themselves heterosexually married to the entire community rather than to a single monogamous partner.
Free Love in Utopia provides the first in-depth account of how complex marriage was introduced among previously monogamous or single Oneida Community members. Bringing together vivid, firsthand writings by members of the community--including personal correspondence, memoranda on spiritual and material concerns, and official pronouncements--this volume portrays daily life in Oneida and the deep religious commitment that permeated every aspect of it. It also presents a complex portrait of the community's founder, John Humphrey Noyes, who demanded not only complete religious loyalty from his followers but also minute control over their sexual lives. It recounts the formidable legal suits faced by the community--one of which almost forced it to disband in 1852--and the critical behind-the-scenes work of Noyes's second-in-command, John L. Miller. Most important, Free Love in Utopia describes in detail how Oneida's "enlarged family" was created and how its unorthodox practices affected its members.
Key selections from a large collection of primary documents detailing Oneida's early years were compiled by George Wallingford Noyes, nephew of the founder. The present volume, astutely edited and introduced by noted communitarian scholar Lawrence Foster, marks the first publication of G. W. Noyes's remarkable manuscript, excerpted from the irreplaceable original documents that were deliberately burned after his death. The volume also reproduces Oneida's First Annual Report, which contains the sexual manifesto that underlay the community.
"I read Peter Y. Paik’s lucid, graceful, ruthless book in one single astonished sitting. I scarred it all over with arrows and exclamation points, so I can read it again as soon as possible." —Bruce Sterling
Revolutionary narratives in recent science fiction graphic novels and films compel audiences to reflect on the politics and societal ills of the day. Through character and story, science fiction brings theory to life, giving shape to the motivations behind the action as well as to the consequences they produce.
In From Utopia to Apocalypse, Peter Y. Paik shows how science fiction generates intriguing and profound insights into politics. He reveals that the fantasy of putting annihilating omnipotence to beneficial effect underlies the revolutionary projects that have defined the collective upheavals of the modern age. Paik traces how this political theology is expressed, and indeed literalized, in popular superhero fiction, examining works including Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel Watchmen, the science fiction cinema of Jang Joon-Hwan, the manga of Hayao Miyazaki, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and the Matrix trilogy. Superhero fantasies are usually seen as compensations for individual feelings of weakness, victimization, and vulnerability. But Paik presents these fantasies as social constructions concerned with questions of political will and the disintegration of democracy rather than with the psychology of the personal.
What is urgently at stake, Paik argues, is a critique of the limitations and deadlocks of the political imagination. The utopias dreamed of by totalitarianism, which must be imposed through torture, oppression, and mass imprisonment, nevertheless persist in liberal political systems. With this reality looming throughout, Paik demonstrates the uneasy juxtaposition of saintliness and cynically manipulative realpolitik, of torture and the assertion of human dignity, of cruelty and benevolence.
History and Utopia
E. M. Cioran University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress HX806.C5613 1998 | Dewey Decimal 335.02
In this book, Cioran writes of politics, of history, and of the utopian dream.
"A small masterwork . . . a stringent examination of some persistent and murky notions in human history. . . . It is best to read Cioran while sitting. The impact upon the intellect can be temporarily stunning, and motor systems may give way under the assault."—Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Houston Chronicle
"Cioran has a claim to be regarded as among the handful of original minds . . . writing today."—New York Times
"A sort of final philosopher of the Western world. [Cioran's] statements have the compression of poetry and the audacity of cosmic clowning."—Washington Post
E. M. Cioran (1911-1995) was born and educated in Romania and lived in Paris from 1937 until his death. He is the author of numerous works, including On the Heights of Despair, also available from the University of Chicago Press.
"""Engaging, provocative in the best sense, Cooke's is an excellent book."" --George Gutsche, University of Arizona
""The virtuoso merging of sociobiological ideas and standard critical techniques is an important vindication for the whole idea of a sociobiological literary criticism. This is a highly accomplished piece of literary scholarship. It will long stand as a landmark."" --Joseph Carroll, University of Missouri "
An appeal for the importance of theory, utopia, and close consideration of our contemporary dark times
What does any particular theory allow us to do? What is the value of doing so? And who benefits? In Invoking Hope, Phillip E. Wegner argues for the undiminished importance of the practices of theory, utopia, and a deep and critical reading of our current situation of what Bertolt Brecht refers to as finsteren Zeiten, or dark times.
Invoking Hope was written in response to three events that occurred in 2016: the five hundredth anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia; the one hundredth anniversary of the founding text in theory, Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics; and the rise of the right-wing populism that culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Wegner offers original readings of major interventions in theory alongside dazzling utopian imaginaries developed from classical Greece to our global present—from Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Alain Badiou, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Sarah Ahmed, Susan Buck-Morss, and Jacques Lacan to such works as Plato’s Republic, W. E. B. Du Bois’s John Brown, Isak Dinesen’s “Babette’s Feast,” Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, and more. Wegner comments on an expansive array of modernist and contemporary literature, film, theory, and popular culture.
With Invoking Hope, Wegner provides an innovative lens for considering the rise of right-wing populism and the current crisis in democracy. He discusses challenges in the humanities and higher education and develops strategies of creative critical reading and hope against the grain of current trends in scholarship.
'Complete freedom from disease and from struggle is almost incompatible with the process of living, ' Rene Dubos asserted in this classic essay on ecology and health. All the accomplishments of science and technology, he argued, will not bring the utopian dream of universal well-being, because they ignore the dynamic process of adaptation to a constantly changing environment that every living organism must face. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Seagull Books, 2014 Library of Congress PN85.S65 2014
Throughout her distinguished career, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has sought to locate and confront shifting forms of social and cultural oppression. As her work shows, the best method for doing so is through extended practice in the ethics of reading.
In Readings, Spivak elaborates a utopian vision for the kind of deep and investigative reading that can develop a will for peaceful social justice in coming generations. Through her own analysis of specific works, Spivak demonstrates modes in which such a vision might be achieved. In the examples here, she pays close attention to signposts of character, action, and place in J. M. Coetzee’s Summertime and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. She also offers rereads of two of her own essays, addressing changes in her own thinking and practice over the course of her career. Now in her fifth decade of teaching, Spivak passes on her lessons through anecdote, interpretation, warning, and instruction to students and teachers of literature. She writes, “I urge students of English to understand that utopia does not happen, and yet to understand, also, their importance to the nation and the world. Indeed, I know how hard it is to sustain such a spirit in the midst of a hostile polity, but I urge the students to consider the challenge.”
"Two world wars, concentration camps, the obliteration of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, and continued preparations for nuclear war illustrate the modern
world's propensity for mass destruction. . . . Yet there have been
important signs of resistance to this trend. These have included not only
the emergence of mass-based peace and disarmament movements but activist
intellectuals grappling with the growing problem posed by mass violence
among nation-states. . . . Bess examines the lives and ideas of four of
these intellectuals: Leo Szilard of Hungary and (later) the United States,
E. P. Thompson of England, Danilo Dolci of Italy, and Louise Weiss of
France. . . . Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud is a powerful,
important scholarly work, casting new light upon some of the great issues
of modern times. Readers will learn much from it."—Lawrence S.
Wittner, Peace and Change
"Bess seeks to understand the way in which the creation of the atomic bomb
has changed the social and political situation of humankind. Are we to be
held hostage by military forces or can we transform our situation? He
describes the lives of four very different activists, each with different
views on what causes conflict and how best to address conflict. . . .
Overall, this book offers an interesting perspective on life after the
atomic bomb. . . . In asking ourselves what the possibilities of our future
are, we can turn to these lives for some guidance. . . . This book is
informative, provocative, and encourages one to consider carefully how s/he
chooses to live."—Erin McKenna, Utopian Studies
"These four lives, researched and skillfully presented by historian Michael
Bess, make fascinating stories in themselves. They also serve as useful
vehicles for examining major cross-currents of Cold War resistance. . . .
From Weiss the cynical pragmatist to Szilard the high-level fixer to
hompson the social reformer to Dolce the spiritual street organizer,
Michael Bess has woven an illuminating tapestry of human efforts to cope
with life under the mushroom cloud."—Samuel H. Day Jr., The Progressive
Transhumanism posits that humanity is on the verge of rapid evolutionary change as a result of emerging technologies and increased global consciousness. However, this insight is dismissed as a naive and controversial reframing of posthumanist thought, having also been vilified as “the most dangerous idea in the world” by Francis Fukuyama. In this book, Andrew Pilsch counters these critiques, arguing instead that transhumanism’s utopian rhetoric actively imagines radical new futures for the species and its habitat.
Pilsch situates contemporary transhumanism within the longer history of a rhetorical mode he calls “evolutionary futurism” that unifies diverse texts, philosophies, and theories of science and technology that anticipate a radical explosion in humanity’s cognitive, physical, and cultural potentialities. By conceptualizing transhumanism as a rhetoric, as opposed to an obscure group of fringe figures, he explores the intersection of three major paradigms shaping contemporary Western intellectual life: cybernetics, evolutionary biology, and spiritualism. In analyzing this collision, his work traces the belief in a digital, evolutionary, and collective future through a broad range of texts written by theologians and mystics, biologists and computer scientists, political philosophers and economic thinkers, conceptual artists and Golden Age science fiction writers. Unearthing the long history of evolutionary futurism, Pilsch concludes, allows us to more clearly see the novel contributions that transhumanism offers for escaping our current geopolitical bind by inspiring radical utopian thought.
When did Americans first believe they were at the center of a truly global culture? How did they envision that culture and how much do recent attitudes toward globalization owe to their often utopian dreams? In Utopia and Cosmopolis Thomas Peyser asks these and other questions, offers a reevaluation of American literature and culture at the dawn of the twentieth century, and provides a new context for understanding contemporary debates about America’s relation to the rest of the world. Applying current theoretical work on globalization to the writing of authors as diverse as Edward Bellamy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Dean Howells, and Henry James, Peyser reveals the ways in which turn-of-the-century American writers struggled to understand the future in a newly emerging global community. Because the pressures of globalization at once fostered the formation of an American national culture and made national culture less viable as a source of identity, authors grappled to find a form of fiction that could accommodate the contradictions of their condition. Utopia and Cosmopolis unites utopian and realist narratives in subtle, startling ways through an examination of these writers’ aspirations and anxieties. Whether exploring the first vision of a world brought together by the power of consumer culture, or showing how different cultures could be managed when reconceived as specimens in a museum, this book steadily extends the horizons within which late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and culture can be understood. Ranging widely over history, politics, philosophy, and literature, Utopia and Cosmopolis is an important contribution to debates about utopian thought, globalization, and American literature.
"Jill Dolan is the theatre's most astute critic, and this new book is perhaps her most important. Utopia in Performance argues with eloquence and insight how theatre makes a difference, and in the process demonstrates that scholarship matters, too. It is a book that readers will cherish and hold close as a personal favorite, and that scholars will cite for years to come."
---David Román, University of Southern California
What is it about performance that draws people to sit and listen attentively in a theater, hoping to be moved and provoked, challenged and comforted? In Utopia in Performance, Jill Dolan traces the sense of visceral, emotional, and social connection that we experience at such times, connections that allow us to feel for a moment not what a better world might look like, but what it might feel like, and how that hopeful utopic sentiment might become motivation for social change.
She traces these "utopian performatives" in a range of performances, including the solo performances of feminist artists Holly Hughes, Deb Margolin, and Peggy Shaw; multicharacter solo performances by Lily Tomlin, Danny Hoch, and Anna Deavere Smith; the slam poetry event Def Poetry Jam; The Laramie Project; Blanket, a performance by postmodern choreographer Ann Carlson; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman; and Deborah Warner's production of Medea starring Fiona Shaw. While the book richly captures moments of "feeling utopia" found within specific performances, it also celebrates the broad potential that performance has to provide a forum for being human together; for feeling love, hope, and commonality in particular and historical (rather than universal and transcendent) ways.
What is utopia if not a perfect impossible world? Anahid Nersessian reveals the basic misunderstanding of that ideal. Applying the lessons of art to the rigors of life on an imperiled planet, she enlists the Romantics to redefine utopia as an investment in limitation—not a perfect world but one where we get less than we hoped but more than we had.
Utopia. New Jersey. For most people—even the most satisfied New Jersey residents—these words hardly belong in the same sentence. Yet, unbeknown to many, history shows that the state has been a favorite location for utopian experiments for more than a century. Thanks to its location between New York and Philadelphia and its affordable land, it became an ideal proving ground where philosophical and philanthropical organizations and individuals could test their utopian theories.
In this intriguing look at this little-known side of New Jersey, Perdita Buchan explores eight of these communities. Adopting a wide definition of the term utopia—broadening it to include experimental living arrangements with a variety of missions—Buchan explains that what the founders of each of these colonies had in common was the goal of improving life, at least as they saw it.
In every other way, the communities varied greatly, ranging from a cooperative colony in Englewood founded by Upton Sinclair, to an anarchist village in Piscataway centered on an educational experiment, to the fascinating Physical Culture City in Spotswood, where drugs, tobacco, and corsets were banned, but where nudity was widespread.
Despite their grand intentions, all but one of the utopias—a single-tax colony in Berkeley Heights—failed to survive. But Buchan shows how each of them left a legacy of much more than the buildings or street names that remain today—legacies that are inspiring, surprising, and often outright quirky.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna and Berlin were centers of scientific knowledge, accompanied by a sense of triumphalism and confidence in progress. Yet they were also sites of fascination with urban decay, often focused on sexual and criminal deviants and the tales of violence surrounding them. Sensational media reports fed the prurient public’s hunger for stories from the criminal underworld: sadism, sexual murder, serial killings, accusations of Jewish ritual child murder—as well as male and female homosexuality.
In Violent Sensations, Scott Spector explores how the protagonists of these stories—people at society’s margins—were given new identities defined by the groundbreaking sciences of psychiatry, sexology, and criminology, and how this expert knowledge was then transmitted to an eager public by journalists covering court cases and police investigations. The book analyzes these sexual and criminal subjects on three levels: first, the expertise of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and scholars; second, the sensationalism of newspaper scandal and pulp fiction; and, third, the subjective ways that the figures themselves came to understand who they were. Throughout, Spector answers important questions about how fantasies of extreme depravity and bestiality figure into the central European self-image of cities as centers of progressive civilization, as well as the ways in which the sciences of social control emerged alongside the burgeoning emancipation of women and homosexuals.