Rethinking Utopia: Fiction, Science, Politics

General Programming

February 4, 2019 Monday, 4:00pm EST Philosophy Hall, Room 521, Columbia University
  • 20/21st Century British Colloquium in the Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • British Studies
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

Please join the 20/21 British Colloquium Monday, Feb. 4 @ 4-6PM (PHIL 521) for a roundtable discussion, "Rethinking Utopia: Fiction, Science, Politics," featuring the work of Visiting Professor Douglas Mao and graduate students Mia Florin-Sefton, Naomi Michalowicz and Diana Newby.

'Utopia' is a fraught term for students and scholars of the 20th century. Yet the last few years have seen a push, as Benjamin Kohlmann recently put it, to "reclaim the value of utopianism while remaining conscious of its potential dangers" (Utopian Spaces of Modernism). This roundtable proceeds from the premise that utopia is, in a sense, 'back'—across different sub-fields, but perhaps especially in studies of modernism and contemporary literature.

So why utopia? Why now? Our conversation will explore both the "value" and the "potential dangers" of utopianism, past and present: as political agenda, in sciences of life, and at the level of narrative form. In dialogue around Visiting Professor Douglas Mao's forthcoming study of utopia, indignation, and justice, we will consider not only the promise and the perils of utopian projects, but also the possibility of critical and artistic models that resist the traditional utopia/anti-utopia paradigm.