There are many debates about utopia - What constitutes a utopia? Are utopias benign or dangerous? Is the idea of utopianism essential to Christianity or heretical? What is the relationship between utopia and ideology? This Very Short Introduction explores these issues and examines utopianism and its history. Lyman Sargent discusses the role of utopianism in literature, and in the development of colonies and in immigration. The idea of utopia has become commonplace in social and political thought, both negatively and positively. Some thinkers see a trajectory from utopia to totalitarianism with violence an inevitable part of the mix. Others see utopia directly connected to freedom and as a necessary element in the fight against totalitarianism. In Christianity utopia is labelled as both heretical and as a fundamental part of Christian belief, and such debates are also central to such fields as architecture, town and city planning, and sociology among many others Sargent introduces and summarizes the debates over the utopia in literature, communal studies, social and political theory, and theology. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Lyman Sargent is a Fellow of the Stout Research Centre at the Victoria University of Wellington and a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is the primary bibliographer in the field of utopian literature and he founded the journal Utopian Studies and the Utopianism and Communitarian series published by Syracuse University Press. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award of both the Society for Utopian Studies and the Communal Studies Association.