Professor Richard A. Lynch
A utopia, it seems, is a perfect society, where everyone lives in harmony and happiness. But utopia, literally, is no place. So why is it that there have been so many different visions of utopia? How is it that the idea of utopia has continually inspired theoretical analyses of society, fictional imaginations of a better world, and even historical attempts to create such a perfect society? In this course, we’ll draw on literature, history, and philosophy to try to grapple with the meaning and importance of utopias and utopian thinking. We’ll engage in a series of “dialogues with utopia”—utopian visions in dialogue with the ideas and issues of their contemporaries, but also our own dialogue between ourselves and with these utopian visions—in order to ask what these utopias tell us about what we think is good, whether a utopian vision can offer an effective critique of actually existing social orders, and whether it can serve as a model for changing contemporary societies.
To access the complete syllabus, please click on the PDF version of the Dialogues with Utopia syllabus.