Thank you for visiting us. We are currently updating our shopping cart and regret to advise that it will be unavailable until September 1, 2014. We apologise for any inconvenience and look forward to serving you again.

Wiley
Wiley.com
Print this page Share

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8328-4
304 pages
May 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities (1405183284) cover image
This brief history connects the past and present of utopian thought, from the first utopias in ancient Greece, right up to present day visions of cyberspace communities and paradise.
  • Explores the purpose of utopias, what they reveal about the societies who conceive them, and how utopias have changed over the centuries
  • Unique in including both non-Western and Western visions of utopia
  • Explores the many forms utopias have taken – prophecies and oratory, writings, political movements, world's fairs, physical communities – and also discusses high-tech and cyberspace visions for the first time
  • The first book to analyze the implicitly utopian dimensions of reform crusades like Technocracy of the 1930s and Modernization Theory of the 1950s, and the laptop classroom initiatives of recent years
See More
Preface xi

Introduction 1

1 The Nature of Utopias 5

Utopias Defined 5

Utopias Differ from both Millenarian Movements and Science Fiction 8

Utopias' Spiritual Qualities are Akin to those of Formal Religions 9

Utopias'Real Goal: Not Prediction of the Future but Improvement of the Present 12

How and When Utopias are Expected to be Established 13

2 The Variety of Utopias 16

The Global Nature of Utopias: Utopias are Predominantly but not Exclusively Western 16

The Several Genres of Utopianism: Prophecies and Oratory, Political Movements, Communities, Writings, World's Fairs, Cyberspace 24

3 The European Utopias and Utopians and Their Critics 47

The Pioneering European Visionaries and Their Basic Beliefs: Plato's Republic and More's Utopia 47

Forging the Connections Between Science, Technology, and Utopia 50

The Pansophists 53

The Prophets of Progress: Condorcet, Saint-Simon, and Comte 55

Dissenters from the Ideology of Unadulterated Scientific and Technological Progress: Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and William Morris 58

The Expansive Visions of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier 60

The "Scientific"Socialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 66

4 The American Utopias and Utopians and Their Critics 74

America as Utopia: Potential and Fulfillment 74

The Pioneering American Visionaries and their Basic Beliefs in America as Land of Opportunity: John Adolphus Etzler, Thomas Ewbank, and Mary Griffith 78

America as "Second Creation": Enthusiasm and Disillusionment 81

5 Growing Expectations of Realizing Utopia in the United States and Europe 89

Later American Technological Utopians: John Macnie Through Harold Loeb 89

Utopia Within Sight: The American Technocracy Crusade 96

Utopia Within Reach: "The Best and the Brightest"—Post-World War II Science and Technology Policy in the United States and Western Europe and the Triumph of the Social Sciences 99

On Misreading Frankenstein: How Scientific and Technological Advances have Changed Traditional Criticisms of Utopianism in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries 123

6 Utopia Reconsidered 139

The Growing Retreat from Space Exploration and Other Megaprojects 139

Nuclear Power: Its Rise, Fall, and Possible Revival—Maine Yankee as a Case Study 142

The Declining Belief in Inventors, Engineers, and Scientists as Heroes; in Experts as Unbiased; and in Science and Technology as Social Panaceas 157

Contemporary Prophets for Profit: The Rise and Partial Fall of Professional Forecasters 160

Post-colonial Critiques of Western Science and Technology as Measures of "Progress"169

7 The Resurgence of Utopianism 186

The Major Contemporary Utopians and Their Basic Beliefs 186

Social Media: Utopia at One's Fingertips 193

Recent and Contemporary Utopian Communities 194

The Star Trek Empire: Science Fiction Becomes Less Escapist 199

Edutopia: George Lucas and Others 203

The Fate of Books and Newspapers: Utopian and Dystopian Aspirations 217

8 The Future of Utopias and Utopianism 234

The "Scientific and Technological Plateau"and the Redefinition of Progress 234

Conclusion: Why Utopia Still Matters Today and Tomorrow 241

Further Reading 261

Index 269

See More
Howard P. Segal is Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine, where he has taught since 1986. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. His previous books include Technological Utopianism in American Culture (1985), Future Imperfect: The Mixed Blessings of Technology in America (1994), Technology in America: A Brief History (1989, 1999, with Alan Marcus), and Recasting the Machine Age: Henry Ford's Village Industries (2005). He also reviews for, among other publications, Nature and the Times Higher Education.
See More

“Segal does a good job of surveying the history of utopias, particularly focusing on the connections with science and technology. Histories of this topic tend to highlight the religious or cultural motivations for writing about or creating utopian societies, but here the author expands the discussion to include virtual communities … This text provides a unique approach for teaching history and the history of science. Highly recommended: general readers; lower-division undergraduates and above.” Choice (1 February 2013)

“Segal brings considerable scholarship and experience to bear, particularly on the historical intersections between technology and utopia ... [He] covers several continents and many centuries, addressing key texts and thinkers ... [and] supplies impressive coverage and thoughtful interpretations.” Times Higher Education (12 July 2012)

 

"A 'near perfect' account of utopias and utopian thinking of the past, present, and future. Historian Howard Segal revisits utopian ideologies revealing their perennial appeal, their use and misuse of technology, and their considerable power to reshape society, then and now."
James Rodger Fleming, Colby College

"An expansive, entertaining and provocative introduction to utopianism and its practitioners ... Utopias captures both the whimsical extravagance as well as the earnestness of attempts (western as well as non-western) to imagine better futures and then actually create better societies across the ages ... [It] is bound to stimulate thought on the subject, and will appeal to a wide readership."
Greg Claeys, University of London

"Segal offers a focus on 'western' expressions of utopianism while devoting substantial space to diversity. Hence we find the expected discussions of literature from More to Bellamy and Wells and beyond ... but there are also interesting examinations of utopias from China, Japan, India, and Latin America; and subsections on World's Fairs, professional forecasters, cyberspace, Megaprojects, social media, E-books, and George Lucas's Edutopia."
Kenneth M. Roemer, University of Texas at Arlington

"The potential for good of science and technology, and their manifest dangers and pitfalls, are vividly evoked by Segal in his accessible account of utopias past and present. This is a work of insight and reflection."
Barbara Goodwin, University of East Anglia

See More
Buy Both and Save 25%!
+

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities (US $35.95)

-and- The Reformation: A Brief History (US $33.95)

Total List Price: US $69.90
Discounted Price: US $52.42 (Save: US $17.48)

Buy Both
Cannot be combined with any other offers. Learn more.

Related Titles

Back to Top