Seminar 2/1 Defining Utopia
For many scholars utopianism and modernity define each other. In many works you will find the argument that the creation of More’s Utopia was a defining moment in the creation of the modern and that before him utopianism was not truly possible. You will also discover the idea that utopianism can be defined in two ways – in terms of content (the perfect non-place) and in terms of process (both the imagining and the realising of an altered and transformed state of being).
In this module we will explore Utopian places and processes, and explore the possibility that there were precursors to Utopia in both these senses. Perfect cities and dreams, visions and prophecies have a history which is much older than modernity, even if the word Utopia was indeed an invention of Thomas More and his friends.
What is Utopia?
• As a concept
• As a genre
What is the relationship between utopias, utopianism and history?
• In the impulse to create utopias
• In their use of history
*History of the Human Sciences 2003; 16; 1 – a special issue of the journal devoted entirely to the subject of Utopias. See esp. the introduction by Ruth Levitas, ‘Introduction: The Elusive Idea of Utopia’, online
*Gregory Claeys, and L. T. Sargent (eds), The Utopia reader (1999) including their Introduction. Or
Lyman Tower Sargent, 'Authority & Utopia: Utopianism in Political Thought'
Polity, Vol. 14, No. 4. (Summer, 1982), pp. 565-584.
Mark Goldie, ‘Obligations, utopias and their historical context’, Historical Journal 26 (1983), 727-46 – historiographical review article.
And see further reading suggested under General and Ethics in the booklet of further readings.
2/2 Field Trip to Utopia – meet 1.45 for 2pm at King’s Manor
“Sir Raymond Unwin, a famous British architect and town planner who put his social-welfare beliefs into practice by designing, with his partner Barry Parker, decent small dwellings and putting his mind to the perennial problems of town planning. Educated at Oxford, Unwin went on to study engineering and architecture, becoming acquainted early on with William Morris and his work. The first dwellings by Unwin and Parker (his partner from 1896) are direct descendants of the Arts & Crafts tradition; their schemes for New Earswick (for Rowntree) and Letchworth Garden City betray similar roots while formalizing the “garden-suburb” principles. From 1907 Unwin and Parker largely followed their own careers, Unwin’s interests in town planning reflected in his influential book Town Planning in Practice. As well as lecturing, Sir Raymond Unwin worked for various government departments and was President of the International Federation for Housing and Town Planning (1928-31) and the RIBA (1931-3). Sir Raymond Unwin was knighted in 1932.” http://famedarchitect.com/sir-raymond-unwin/ [12 January 2010]
Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust: http://www.jrht.org.uk/About+us/JRHT+history/
Joseph Rowntree Foundation : http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/JRF-About-Us.pdf
Mark Swenarton, Homes fit for heroes : the politics and architecture of early state housing in Britain (1981) – references to New Earswick, Raymond Unwin, Garden villages.
See also the Reading for seminar 8/1
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Seminar 2/1 Defining Utopia