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Utopian Studies
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.118
Number of Followers: 3  
 
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ISSN (Print) 1045-991X - ISSN (Online) 2154-9648
Published by Penn State University Press Homepage  [34 journals]
  • Editors’ Message

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      Abstract: Welcome to Utopian Studies 34.3, the final issue for 2023. We want to start by thanking subscribers (and of course authors!) for their patience as this new editorial team has worked its way, together, through a new “look” and a new format for the journal. This issue reflects all these changes, with a balance of academic articles, an important Critical Forum, several Desire Lines contributions, Book Reviews, and Conference Briefings.The first three stand-alone articles share an interest in the strategic variations of genre and medium that make utopian and dystopian studies so rich. In “No Exit: Death Drive, Dystopia, and the Long Winter of the American Dream in Harold Ramis’s The Ice Harvest,” author Eric Smith ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • No Exit: Death Drive, Dystopia, and the Long Winter of the American Dream
           in Harold Ramis’s The Ice Harvest

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      Abstract: In this incoherent brutality there is the feeling of a dream.In the three decades since its theatrical release, Harold Ramis’s 1993 comic fantasy Groundhog Day has accomplished the rare feat of eliciting near-universal popular, critical, and academic acclaim as a film of serious intellectual ambition that is also accessibly entertaining to a broad viewership. The MLA International Bibliography alone now indexes more than two dozen books, articles, chapters, or graduate theses featuring critical discussions of the film. It is equally beloved among philosophers for its compelling engagement with the dilemmas of temporality, phenomenology, subjectivity, and ethics.1 Meeting with markedly less popular and critical ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Social Prison: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed as
           Postanarchist Critical Utopia

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      Abstract: For anarchists, the prison—along with the institutions of carceral justice that support it—represents one of the most vile and visible examples of state repression. Anarchist theorists and activists have traditionally advocated for the complete abolition of prisons, police, and other mechanisms of carceral justice as part of a broader project of antistate resistance. However, while prison abolition constitutes one of the fundamental goals of anarchism, many of the alternatives put forth by classical anarchist thinkers risk perpetuating the underlying power relations of carceral justice by encouraging coercive institutions of social shaming and the policing of norms.1 As a utopian society based on the principles of ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Archibald Marshall’s “Motley Mixture of Crying Contradictions”:
           Upsidonia as Utopian Farce

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      Abstract: Karl Marx’s acerbic observation in the opening lines of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) that “all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice . . . the first time as tragedy, the second as farce” has been so frequently invoked as to become an aphoristic preamble for myriad investigations into the links between rhetorical and historical repetition.1 History may repeat itself, Marx declares, but only as a cynical reenactment of events in twisted language and faded regalia borrowed from its original movers. Marx’s now-proverbial remark, however, might also be profitably applied to a reconsideration of literary farce sui generis, a genre represented in this ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Engineering the Welfare State: Economic Thought as Context to Boye’s
           Kallocain and Huxley’s Brave New World

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      Abstract: Although it is one of Sweden’s best-known novels, the dystopian Kallocain (1940) by Karin Boye (1900–1941) has received little anglophone scholarly attention.1 This is regrettable partly because the novel deserves more consideration, and partly because it provides a clue to a little-examined aspect of the dystopian genre, namely its relationship to concurrent economic thinking generally, and to the increased use of statistics and mathematics specifically.2 While political factors such as the rise of the Soviet Union and the East-West divide, the role of technocracy, population demographics, and, of course, the totalitarian state have received ample attention, little has been said about the rise of dystopian ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Three Moderate Solutions to Income Inequality in Utopia: Hertzka, Herzl,
           and Wells

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      Abstract: “There is enough for all. So there should be no more people living in poverty. . . . Enough should be a human right, a floor below which no one can fall; also a ceiling above which no one can rise. . . . Arranging this situation,” posits Kim Stanley Robinson, “is left as an exercise for the reader.”1 Barbara Goodwin reports five principal ills utopians link to economic inequality: (1) poverty and suffering; (2) threats to human dignity; (3) class structures limiting opportunity (“depravation of chances for self-betterment and social mobility”); (4) the inefficiency of inegalitarian methods of production (waste and surplus labor); and (5) the injustice of inegalitarian systems.2In contrast to utopias seeking to ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Past and Future of Utopian Studies

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      Abstract: This critical forum on “The Past and Future of Utopian Studies” originated as a roundtable discussion at the conference, “Opening Utopia: New Directions in Utopian Studies,” held at the University of Brighton in July 2022. The title of the conference reflected a determination on the part of the program coordination team—Patricia McManus (University of Brighton), Laurence Davis (University College Cork), Siân Adiseshiah (Loughborough University), Antonis Balasopoulos (University of Cyprus), Tom Moylan (University of Limerick), Michael G. Kelly (University of Limerick), Emrah Atasoy (Cappadocia University), and Ross Sparkes (University of Brighton)—to make the conference an inclusive and potentially radically ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Two Cheers for Blueprints, or, Negative Reasons for Positive Utopianism

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      Abstract: It is well known that the decline of programmatic or so-called blueprint utopias and utopianism came on the heels of a widespread and concerted attack against them during the first two decades of the Cold War. In the writings of thinkers like Hayek, Popper, Talmon, Kolakowski, and many others, program became synonymous with hubris.1 It was construed as a dangerous effort to regulate the diversity of human subjectivity and the complexity of the social organism, a repressive will-to-order and predictability that tainted utopias by associating them with Totalitarianism. In Popper’s exemplary exposition:The Utopian attempt to realize an ideal state, using a blueprint for society as a whole, is one which demands a ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Hope Draped in Black: Decolonizing Utopian Studies

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      Abstract: What does utopian studies have to learn from critical race theory, Black studies, and ideas of Black futurity' While utopian scholars have begun unpicking the colonial entanglements of utopianism’s origins (particularly as a literary genre grounded in pelagic crossings to the New World that have advocated slavery, extractivism, and eugenics to name a few notable examples across the utopian canon), few, if any, have incorporated the perspectives, aesthetics, and theoretical work of Black scholars themselves.1 The following are a few brief remarks organized around keywords (in a nod to Raymond Williams, a fierce advocate of utopian thinking) that attempt to sketch an answer to these questions, with a focus on my own ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Hispanic Utopian Studies and Activism as a Prompt

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      Abstract: In the last few years I have come to the Utopian Studies Societýs yearly conference as part of a smaller group, one that has its own parallel history in the left corner of the South of Europe and is networked mostly with Latin America. I am referring to the interdisciplinary research group Histopia, which has its base in Madrid́s Autónoma University, is comprised of twenty-seven researchers from different institutions, and is coordinated by historian Juan Pro. As the name Histopia suggests, it was founded by historians. From the beginning there have been people from other fields, such as political science, architecture, cultural studies, and art history. The aim was always understanding utopianism beyond the study ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Funding Utopia: Utopian Studies and the Discourse of Academic Excellence

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      Abstract: As an academic field, there is in some important ways nothing special about utopian studies. Granted, our object of inquiry may look beyond the present toward what Ruth Levitas terms the Imaginary Reconstruction of Society, but we are still workers in what Darren Webb calls the “corporate-imperial” university.1 Webb argues that within the university we can at best protect “bolt holes, breathing spaces, and places of refuge” that can function as “fleeting, transitory, small-scale experiences of utopian possibility.” As academics, our greater value to utopian politics therefore involves using our “knowledge and resources . . . in the service of a collaborative process of memory- and story-making, pulling together ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Blind Spots and Avenues for Transformation within the Utopian Canon:
           Toward A Terrestrial Ecotopianism

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      Abstract: Utopianism in all of its manifestations often powerfully (re)surfaces during times of significant socio-ecological upheaval as a response to oppressive and exploitative realities. As such it is a fervent refusal against a given status quo and its purported inevitability. Utopianism and hope are rendered possible by, and draw their transformative potential from, the boundless terrain of potentiality surrounding any given reality.1 Indeed, without such conditions of radical uncertainty, hope and utopianism would not be possible. Often and understandably, the seminal works of Plato, Thomas More, William Morris, H. G. Wells and others come to mind when we think of utopian studies. Hence Kumar’s parochial observation ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Response 1: Acting Up in Utopia

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      Abstract: On my first read through these Critical Forum essays, two underpinning issues stand out to me as of common concern. First, they show disciplinary issues in utopian studies and the academy are both part of a contemporary dystopian structure of feeling. This in turn is embedded within the longer historical epoch which we may term the “capitalist mode of production” or, as Caroline Edwards puts it, “the modern period of capitalist accumulation.” We share an understanding that this is an epoch of great human and ecocidal destruction, as Heather Alberro most directly argues. Second, in addressing utopian studies and academia’s wider role in the reproduction of social, economic, and geographical inequalities, the essays ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Response 2: “Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will”

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      Abstract: Let me begin with a few words on my title, which was chosen as reflecting the nature of the orientation of my work in the field of utopian studies and therefore also of my orientation toward the theme of this roundtable. As Francesca Antonini puts it in a recent essay, the phrase, which became associated with the work of Antonio Gramsci though it originates in Romain Rolland, describes “the (seemingly contradictory) coexistence of a realistic description of the status quo, on the one hand, and a genuine commitment to the possibility of transforming reality, on the other.”1Anyone who has read Thomas More’s Utopia knows that Rolland’s and Gramsci’s formula very much describes that book’s bifurcation between a voice ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Response 3: Transgressive Utopianism and Direct Activism

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      Abstract: This is an important time to revisit questions concerning the historical underpinnings of utopianism as a mode of praxis and theoretical endeavor, its potential oversights and where it ought to venture in the decades to come. The multidisciplinary Hispanic utopian project Histopia discussed by Ramirez-Blanco offers a helpful starting point for this discussion. Especially noteworthy, in my view, is Histopia’s recognition of and interest in engaging with manifestations of utopianism beyond academia and examining the full spectrum of the utopian imaginary, from texts to social movements. Similarly important is what Ramirez-Blanco alludes to as Histopia’s laudable attempts to “decenter” the discipline toward the ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Response 4: The Summer of Our Discontent

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      Abstract: I write this response on the eve of another wave of industrial action in the UK in November 2022—the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) “UCU Rising” campaign, the latest in a series of regular disputes over pay and working conditions, the gender and ethnicities pay gap, and casualisation that has been ongoing since 2018. In 2022’s “summer of discontent,” we’ve seen our rail, maritime and transport workers, airport staff, bus drivers, telecommunications workers, postal workers, nurses, refuse workers, and higher and further education staff engage in ongoing industrial disputes with intractable bosses. Even criminal barristers continue with an indefinite, uninterrupted strike after years of government cuts and ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Literary Method of Urban Design: Design Fictions Using Fiction

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      Abstract: For students of design the world over, there’s usually nowhere near enough time in the school year to build a prototype of each and every single innovative idea that pops into one’s head—let alone to test them all in the social world or the marketplace. To speedily explore as many innovations as possible, students are sometimes encouraged to follow an alternative pathway, to create “design fiction.” Intended to exist only on paper or the screen, a “design fiction” is not really destined for the real world.1 As a learning technique, it allows for a significant degree of technical experimentation as well as the imagining of new social arrangements. Many design experts see this “free-for-all” method as rather annoying ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Noble Impermanence of Waystations

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      Abstract: In the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA), adjacent to Gate 14, a screen announces that boarding to Equestria is on time. The description below this announcement includes transport “through a portal to a parallel dimension” and a “harmonious sparkly” atmosphere. An attractive destination. Esquestria’s capital, Canterlot, offers castles, dragons, and, of course, ponies. As the heart of the My Little Pony universe, Canterlot boasts a fantastical utopia. Gate ∞, as it is called (because its erstwhile home, Gate 13, is an unlucky number), imaginatively whisks weary travelers away to other fantastical destinations. Using a commonplace ticket machine or kiosk, travelers answer a series of whimsical questions ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Last Man by Mary Shelley (review)

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      Abstract: New critical editions of well-known literary works serve several important functions, and those designed specifically for students serve two of the most important: to introduce readers to texts that were overlooked during and since the author’s time, but that might find greater favor today; and to re-introduce to a new generation of students classic texts that have lost critical favor or been neglected. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) is a novel long overshadowed by brilliance and resilient legacy of her first novel, Frankenstein (1818), written at a mere eighteen years of age. As so often happened to nineteenth-century women who published under their own names, both Frankenstein and The Last Man were hammered ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Indian Science Fiction: Patterns, History and Hybridity by Suparno
           Banerjee (review)

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      Abstract: Suparno Banerjee’s monograph examines science fiction (henceforth SF) from India, a country that has a rich and fascinating tradition of SF. This is a book that will be of interest and value to scholars and students in higher education of utopia, dystopia, and speculative fiction, and to readers across disciplines interested in SF as a mode. It is quite clear today that Darko Suvin’s canonical definition of SF as cognitive estrangement, an interplay between the familiar and the strange, and its emphasis on the novum that is created in SF, has been enriched with further attention to context, including postcolonial contexts. Whose familiarity in cognition are we speaking about, and what happens when contexts are not ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Found in Translation: “New People” in Twentieth-Century Chinese
           Science Fiction by Jing Jiang (review)

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      Abstract: One of the Association of Asian Studies’ Asia Shorts series, Jing Jiang’s monograph is a delightful 130-page read including notes and a bibliography. It contributes new and cross-cultural perspectives to the Chinese SF scholarship that has recently been invigorated by a plethora of translations into English, animated discussions at conference panels and themed lectures, and book-length studies such as Nathaniel Isaacson’s Celestial Empire: The Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction (2017), which focuses on China’s early twentieth century, and Hua Li’s Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw (2021), which deals with works published between 1978 and 1981, to name just a couple. Jiang’s book covers ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel by Caroline Edwards (review)

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      Abstract: The development of the novel as a literary form is closely linked to the representational mode of realism and how it can convey the human experience of time. That the novel distinguishes itself substantially from earlier forms of literature in how it attempts to capture temporality through means of literary realism has been acknowledged ever since Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel (1957). As such, the novel form underwent dramatic changes throughout the periods of modernity and postmodernity, with modernist and postmodernist techniques of representation mirroring shifts in the temporal experience. But how can the contemporary novel—a category itself loaded with implication and definitional problems—of the ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Future of the Book: Images of Reading in the American Utopian Novel by
           Kevin J. Hayes (review)

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      Abstract: Kevin J. Hayes is a writer of high regard, having published many books over his distinguished career, including biographical studies such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, George Washington: A Life in Books, and several on Edgar Allen Poe. Works like the 2020 monograph Shakespeare and the Making of America showcase his intersecting interests in biography, literature, and American political history. It is these interests that are very much on display in his 2022 monograph The Future of the Book: Images of Reading in the American Utopian Novel, and we should be thankful that Hayes has turned his attention to the subject of utopian fiction as he certainly has much to add to the discussion. The book is clearly a labor of ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • Disaster Anarchy: Mutual Aid and Radical Action by Rhiannon Firth (review)

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      Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and the unfolding climate crisis, with the multiplication of unprecedented weather events, have shown how urgent it is to reflect on our responses to disaster. Following up on themes she first broached in Coronavirus, Class, and Mutual Aid in the United Kingdom, Rhiannon Firth throws a fresh, anarchist, and utopian light on disaster relief in Disaster Anarchy.1 In this work, Firth seeks to “consider how [anarchist] social movements’ impressive efforts in mutual aid might contribute to a radical and revolutionary reconceptualisation of disasters and the processes of relief and recovery efforts” (19). To do so, she begins by surveying the dominant approaches to disaster relief (chapters 2 and 3) ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • (P)rescription Narratives: Feminist Medical Fiction and the Failure of
           American Censorship. by Stephanie Peebles Tavera (review)

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      Abstract: Utopian Studies readers first saw Stephanie Peebles Tavera’s work in print in her 2018 essay on reproductive health in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland. More recently, in (P)rescription Narratives, she gives readers a view of the much broader historical scope of her scholarship in literary and cultural studies. Tavera’s analysis of what she labels “feminist medical fiction” considers not only novels and short stories but also literary reviews, dramas, and documentary films, many of which will be unfamiliar to readers of utopian and dystopian literature. Yet the book contextualizes the ways in which these works capture the “utopian possibilities” of women writers who pushed for breaking the boundaries of the ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • WisCon 46 (review)

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      Abstract: In a world that seems structured to kill most of its occupants, there is a utopian impulse in the act of existence itself. WisCon 46 represented a prefigurative utopian impulse through centering continued marginalized existence as resistance.1 Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha calls “prefigurative politics” the “fancy term for the idea of imagining and building the world we want to see now,” particularly in terms of access needs.2 The structure as well as the content of the convention itself created a space in which to set the groundwork for utopia: the ways that we live and act to resist structures of oppression in order to prefigure a better world.Since WisCon’s founding in 1977, its intended audience has been ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • ECHIC—The European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres
           2023 Annual Conference

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      Abstract: This year’s annual conference of the European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres (ECHIC) invited international scholars with diverse backgrounds to explore visions of a desirable future world that is both environmentally sustainable and socially just. In stressing the social and political relevance of the humanities in Europe today, the main goal of the Consortium, as it is articulated on the conference website, is the pursuit of the highest international standards of excellence with a spirit of innovation and exploration of new research areas:Since the World Commission on Environment and Development published Our Common Future (1987) [commonly known as the Brundtland Report], the notion of . . . ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Solarpunk Conference by From Imagination to Action (review)

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      Abstract: The Solarpunk Conference was born out of the desire to see an accessible space dedicated to discussions of solarpunk. With solarpunk growing in popularity in both popular and academic circles, the need for such a space seemed obvious to the organizers. The organizers also felt the need to bridge academic and popular conversations in a way that was productive and opened further discussion, as the disconnect between the academic and popular spheres is often damaging to social movements. This was especially important for solarpunk because of its nature as being built from below. Solarpunk is crowdsourced, having evolved over the years from social media aesthetic to literature to social movement, with few canonical ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
  • The Knock at the Door: Utopian Dreams for Post-Covid Times

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      Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has fostered new adversities and vulnerabilities, prompting reflection on the economic, social, and political paradigms that endanger human and nonhuman lives. For many, it was anxiety and uncertainty that “knock[ed] at the door”; for others, however, those same feelings of unease prompted one of hopefulness: reflecting on the possibilities for resilience and regeneration in the process of changing our vision of the world.1 The Knock at the Door conference brought contemporary utopianism to the forefront of thinking about how to respond to global crises while remaining attentive to other adversities of daily life. Scholars and artists answered the knock in an attempt to examine paths toward ... Read More
      PubDate: 2024-01-23T00:00:00-05:00
       
 
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