Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing


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Nicole is also a co-convenor of " Restoration to Reform " which is the English Faculty seminar for eighteenth-century studies at the Oxford University. Since the first meeting in , the character of the seminar has been scholarly, interdisciplinary and convivial. This paper will reflect on the possibility and impossibility of utopianism in the Anthropocene and ask the question if utopia is possible in the Anthropocene?


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It will take into consideration recent debates around utopia and the Anthropocene and look at four literary examples from Germany, Norway, England and the US. In this essay the author traces the development of polite sociability within the framework of the European salon. Underlying this fusion of art, conversation and epistolarity is a greater vision of civil society.

What interests the author particularly is the notion of reciprocal communication and sociability that is developed in the tradition of the letter in the work of the Bluestockings Bettina von Arnim and Rahel Varnhagen. Not wishing to ignore the problematic questions of periodization and cultural differences, the European salons of the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries clearly shared a common concern: to find their place in an ever-changing public sphere. Our websites use cookies session, persistent, third party, advertising and performance so they function correctly, to help us improve them and for targeted advertising.

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Women's Utopias of the Eighteenth Century - Alessa Johns - Google книги

Academic staff. She learns that the actuality of this future society depends on her own action in the present; if she does not fight now, the evils of contemporary society will grow even worse. Thus the narrative perspective changes from that of a victim through utopian imagination to that of a political actor whose decisions matter. Although the social order on the moon Triton is very open to all sorts of lifestyles, happiness is not guaranteed, because there is still lovesickness—and then a war breaks out. He interprets neo-liberal capitalism as an anti-utopian project that tries to exterminate, colonize, or delegitimize utopia.

But utopia is quite cunning, so it uses one of the literary devices of anti-utopia, namely dystopia, to re-enter public discourse and give hope to oppositional activists.

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The protagonist Jim McPherson and his friends live a meaningless cyberpunk life full of parties, sex, and drugs. Jim tries to fight the system by joining a terrorist group that attacks arms manufacturers, but this is also absurd as it becomes clear that the terrorist group is just a sabotage group financed by an economic competitor of the arms manufacturer. The self-reflexivity of all three California-novels of Robinson makes three different ways of writing history and possible future-history one of the main themes.

Critical utopia and critical dystopia are mixed and directly discussed by protagonists. Butlers novel Parable of the Sower , society breaks down completely, and a kind of Hobbesian state of nature emerges. Even the powerful corporations with their own cities—the typical villains of the post-totalitarian or rather neo-totalitarian dystopias—are no solution, because they enslave their workers. Lauren cannot defend herself by violent means, because her mother took some performance-enhancing drugs during pregnancy, leaving Lauren with hyper-sensibility: she intensely feels every pain she sees.

So she is very vulnerable. But she manages to leave this war of all against all. She feels the weaknesses of others, so she can reach out to them and offer mutual help. She strengthens this loose bond by preaching a new religion she just invented. So a small group comes into existence and finally succeeds in finding and defending a small outlying territory. The author of the critical utopia Woman on the Edge of Time sketched out a world ruled by a few mega-corporations, called multis, that run a few domed mega-cities that seem to be the only possible places for decent living, because nature outside the domes is devastated and poisoned.

Only the poor live there in huge dangerous slums—the glop—where the only food is some kind of edible mud, made by the corporations and exclusively given to their day labourers. The literary style is again quite cyberpunkish. Piercy discusses multiple topics in this novel: gender possibilities, transhumanism, and the defence of utopian communities against overwhelming powers. There are three kinds of utopian pockets outside the corporation domes: the free cities, the black zone, and the new gangs.


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The free cities produce specialized commodities for the multis; every multi would love to incorporate the free cities, but this would be disadvantageous for the other multis who thusly prevent their competitors from conquest, resulting in a precarious balance of terror, a. One of the cities, Tikva, also uses their own military cyborg. The black zone is a post-nuclear-war Israel where apparently no human can live; but surviving women live there in caves, creating not only a new utopian community but new radiation-resistant bodies, thus entering the stage of transhumanism.

Then there are the criminal gangs in the glop who make life there even more miserable. But new gangs emerge. They do not act as warlords but strive towards egalitarian revolutionary objectives. They even invent their own artificial food, making it possible to strike against the multis without starving. All three utopian groups are in extreme danger and only have a chance when they help each other.

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It remains open if they will succeed—and how much violence they should use. But they all show that there is still hope, and that hope lies in utopian imagination and in real-world mutual aid. The main themes are ecology and economy. And science is strictly controlled by the deliberative direct democracy or rather: political anarchism of the city—this is necessary because profit-oriented science has killed off most people some decades before, sparing only hillbillies and potheads; and now the scientists want to genetically alter dolphins. So this is one field of heated political debate in the novel.

One does not have to work much for a living, but when you work, good quality of the produced goods is expected; and this also leads to disputes. He is the terrorist arsonist, Erics adversary. While reading After the Deluge , one can understand both, although the positively utopian Eric is more likeable. It can be read without taking it as utopia, but it is certainly a very special and thoughtful novel.

It even has been reviewed in Nature , the famous science journal, which is a rare honour. The novel discusses scientific and philosophical concepts like quantum mechanics, parallel universes and the nature of consciousness. And it invents a new language. So it is difficult to read—but very rewarding, especially for utopia scholars. From this viewpoint, Anathem presents itself as critical dystopia. It is told from the perspective of the inhabitant of a monastery-like community that allows its members to go to the saecular world only once in a year, or once in a decade, or even only once in a century.

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There are strict rules, hierarchical bureaucracy, nasty punishments, asceticism, and the high technology that everyone can use outside this monastery is forbidden for the inhabitants. This is quite typical for classical utopias and dystopias: they are very often quite monastical. Outside there is political change, religious conflict, stupidity, while the monastery is an island of stability. The monastery is not religious, but rather scientific, mathematic, philosophic. As long as one follows the general rules, one can do what one wishes.


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After all, it is not so bad, despite of being quite austere. And then something happens from the outside, and the protagonist, Fraa Erasmas, has to save not only the monastery, but the world—the world that he is allowed to visit only every ten years. In the course of the adventure, the walls between monastery and saecular world and the strict rules are questioned, and a new era might arise—if the world is not destroyed.

Anathem is a critical utopia not because it criticizes capitalism and the state they are in the saecular world , but it criticizes the utopian enclave and shows how it can change to the better, through the actions of an individual that repeatedly breaks the rules and finds friends that help him. The utopian aspect of this steampunk novel consists of the kinds of organization of the mountain people Hron, their decision procedures, their views on ownership, and their structures of accountability.

Like them, he sympathizes with the utopians and eventually joins them. But the utopian mountain people do not live in peace: an imperial army attacks brutally. The journalist Dimos is embedded in this army and has to support it by writing compliant press articles. So at the beginning of the novel, we have the insider perspective of a dystopian inhabitant. Then, after he defects to the Hron, his perspective changes into that of a utopian traveller and finally a fellow combatant. The whole story is actually a part of the resistant war effort.

Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing
Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing Gender and Utopia in the Eighteenth Century: Essays in English and French Utopian Writing

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