LITR 5439 Literary & Historical Utopias

Book 2 Utopia Discussion                                                            June 11, 2015

Russ Lanier

1.     What problems with characterization does utopian fiction generate? 

-         Answer: At first glance it seems to propose that all “utopian communities and people lack diversity”.  Images projected of sameness and lack of imagination.  People within these so called utopia’s are either portrayed as mindless and intellectually inept.  Usually demonstrating weakness in leadership skills.  Growing up in the deep south and from a strong Christian (Baptist) background, these utopian values were mostly associated with cults which were easily portrayed by  movies, TV and news reports.  Examples: Jonestown 1978, Manson’s hippie commune and The Branch Davidians (Waco).  Loss of identity or individualism


2.     What conventions or set-pieces typify the utopian genre?

-         Answer: Inequality usually remains the catalyst to developing utopian communities or ideals.   In some settings, the utopian environment usually consists of small communities set in some other world far away from the dystopian environments generations once created prone to violence and misdeeds towards vulnerable populations. 

-         Other set pieces or expectations that are popular in utopian fictional genres are:

o   Economic systems that favor equality or equal distribution of wealth are common.  Work production in More’s Utopia the principal production of agriculture is the main stay which feeds everyone and surplus is sold to foreign markets for exchange of gold and silver.

o   Education and Intellectual growth are a valued ideal shared by most communities.  However there is evidence that certain utopian cultures limit this knowledge capacity as they (hierarchical systems) recognize that could cause dissension among the lower populace once they start critical thinking pathways and question the will of its chosen few.

Philosophy in Utopia promotes “reason” as the foundation for all knowledge (Socratic pedagogical concepts).  As with anything pleasure is the goal of life


3. Utopia's most threatening reforms may be abolition of private property, and reshaping of family relations. Are these two proposals related? Is family a form of property?


-         Answer: In Utopia, Hythloday describes how the family unit (which consists of 30 family members) which are headed by one leader (Syhogrant).  Marriage is encouraged and honored.  Divorce is permissible.   There is slavery but only from people who committed crimes or prisoners captured from foreign lands.


Question or things that may make you go hummmmm….


If this world, or more in particular the US is falling into some dystopian chaos, what do you think is driving it?  Here is an idea that is one of the reasons why: