Visions of Nowhere: The Utopian Tradition

utopia1The utopian tradition, at least nominally, began with Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), who coined the generic term. In Greek, utopia means “nowhere” (ou “not” + topos “place”), but suggests an especially virtuous somewhere as well (eu “good” + topos “place”). What roles have these perfect, non-existent worlds played in literary, political, and ethical traditions? How have we made our way to them? How have they changed us? Readings will include selections from More, Sir Francis Bacon, Tao Yuanming, Henry David Thoreau, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Samuel Butler, William Morris, Ernest Callenbach, and Marge Piercy.

Meets: Saturday, January 26, 2013 – Saturday, March 2, 2013

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Richard Hugo House

General: $230.00
Members of Hugo House: $207.00


Click here for information on registration and financial aid.


Required Readings

Week 1

Tao Yuanming, The Peach Blossom Spring

Sir Thomas More, Utopia

Week 2

Sir Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden (first two chapters only – “Economy” and “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”)

Week 3

Samuel Butler, Erewhon (chapters 7, 8, and 23-25)

William Morris, News from Nowhere (chapters 1-15)

Week 4

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (chapters 1-5)

Week 5

Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (chapters 1-12)

Week 6

Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia


To come…

(discussion questions will be posted here a few days before each meeting)