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This symposium seeks to explore the phenomenon of utopias in all their incarnations—real and imagined; micro and macro; past, present and future. We seek to situate utopian thinking historically and culturally. Are these visions of a perfect world a distinctive feature of Western modernity or do they tap into a more universal impulse? What can utopias tell us about the societies and eras that produced them? What is the view of human nature underlying utopian ideals? We look to explore the processes by which utopian ideals are developed and disseminated. What sort of people build utopias? What makes some utopian models more attractive than others? What are the conditions in which individuals are prone to affiliate themselves with utopian movements? Finally, we seek to investigate the fate of utopias. Why have utopian communities been so difficult to sustain over time? Have some visions of utopia had more of a lasting impact than others? What is the point at which dreams of utopia cross the line into dystopias—nightmares of oppression, conformity, and the subjugation of the individual?

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Seton Hall University


Arts and Humanities | History

Past Perfect: Utopian Visions in Historical Perspective

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