Utopian Imagination

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: History

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Utopian Imagination
Spring 2024
Taught By: Jeremy Varon
Section: A

CRN: 14581

Credits: 4

For centuries, the idea of a perfected or "utopian" society has entranced philosophers, artists, and political actors. It has inspired rebellion, resistance, and revolution, and served as a vehicle of both moral and material progress. But the desire for a "transcendent" future has also been the impetus for new forms of oppression; at an extreme, utopian dreams have yielded dystopian nightmares. This course examines utopia as both a theoretical and historical construct by examining the various forms utopianism has taken, the kinds of political movements it has given rise to, and both philosophical and practical criticisms of utopian experiments. In particular, we will examine how the desire to destroy and then transcend existing society has fueled various forms of political rebellion, including violence. Ethical considerations chiefly the question of what means are justifiable in service of ostensibly noble ends will therefore play a central role in our inquiry. We will also pose the question of whether we now live, as may assert, in a "post Utopian" age. Has utopianism been so thoroughly discredited by virtue of its connection to violence and forms of social control? Are other forces at work in the decline of utopianism? Does one have access to the utopian at least as a sensibility or a "moment" through participation in various subcultures? And with the growing protest of the inequities of the new global economy and other forms of activism, is utopianism making a comeback? In addressing these questions, we will examine current trends in American politics and popular culture.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: History (HIS)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: Yes

* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 1:58am EDT 5/25/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Tuesday, Thursday
Times: 2:00pm - 3:40pm
Building: Eugene Lang 65 W11th
Room: 464
Date Range: 1/23/2024 - 5/9/2024