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American Utopia at the Turn of the 20th Century

Class at Faculty of Arts |



The course provides an introduction to the concept of utopia, a brief exploration of several nineteenth-century communitarian projects and a detailed analysis of selected turn-of-the-century utopian novels. Primary texts under review include Mary Griffith’s “Three Hundred Years Hence,” Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward 2000-1887, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland and Imperium in Imperio by Sutton E. Griggs.


Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward 2000-1887. New York: Signet, 2000.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Griffith, Mary. “Three Hundred Years Hence.” Camperdown; or, News from our Neighbourhood. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1836.

Griggs, Sutton E. Imperium in Imperio. New York: Arno Press, 1969.

Kumar, Krishan. Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. (extracts)

Mohrbacher, B.C. “The Whole World is Coming: The 1890 Ghost Dance Movement as Utopia.” Utopian Studies 7:1 (1996).

Pease, William and Jane Pease. Black Utopia: Negro Communal Experiments in America. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1963. (extracts)

Pfaelzer, Jean. The Utopian Novel in America 1886-1896: The Politics of Form. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 1984. (extracts)

Pizer, Donald E., ed. America's Communal Utopias. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. (selected essays)

Roemer, Kenneth, ed. America as Utopia. New York: Burt Franklin, 1981. (selected essays)

Suvin, Darko. “Defining the Literary Genre of Utopia.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 6 (Fall 1973).


To receive their credits, students must attend at least 70% of seminars, deliver an oral presentation and submit an essay of 3000-4000 words.