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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Global Utopias Project Resource Guide

Introduction to Global Utopias

Infrogmation of New Orleans, "Bansky Raingirl Corner." 28 August 2008. Infrogmation of New Orleans' flickr gallery. 19 January 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/29350288@N06/2817595644>. Image above has been cropped.

Welcome!

Utopia concerns some of the most pressing questions about human life, past and present, including justice and injustice, freedom and its absence, the individual and the community, diversity, values and ethics, and the meanings of happiness and suffering. What “utopia” and “dystopia” have long brought to these issues is the effort to think and act beyond the ordinary and normative, to think and act “outside of the box” of what we assume are the limits of the possible and impossible. 

- from the UIUC Global Utopias Project Homepage

The purpose of this guide is to offer a wide variety of resources to anyone who has a personal or scholarly interest in Utopias. As you will see, the guide is broken up into several parts, each one related to a different aspect of Utopias. Since the topic of Utopia is incredibly broad and has many different aspects, what is presented here is only a smattering of what is out there. We hope that you will find this guide useful. This guide is an ongoing project and collaboration between the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign History Philosophy and Newspaper Library and the Global Utopias Project of the Center for Historical Interpretation of the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

We are always looking to improve this guide and welcome your feedback. Especially, if something is not here that you think should be. One aspect of this guide that we would like to improve is that it is still very skewed towards Western concepts of Utopia. 

Please email your feedback to Emily Ewers (History Library graduate assistant) at ewers1@illinois.edu

Global Utopias Project at UIUC

The Global Utopias Project is supported by the Center for Historical Interpretation of the UIUC History Department. It is part of a "three-year program of conversations and events on the ways Utopia has been imagined, interpreted and practiced globally"

-from the UIUC Global Utopias Project website

Core Activities of the project:

  • ​A faculty and graduate-student reading group, meeting regularly to discuss interpretive, comparative, and theoretical studies of utopia/dystopia across disciplines and across the world, but also primary texts, including political writings, literature, scientific and technological plans, and visual works. During this coming year the focus will shift conceptualizing and defining utopia to practices and materializations. See Reading tab above for current information and notes on past discussions.
  • A graduate curriculum development workshop, helping graduate students develop syllabi on this theme, or incorporating this theme within other rubrics.

  • A professional development workshop for local/regional public school teachers that will bring faculty and K-12 educators together to discuss this topic, classroom strategies and materials, and how to incorporate international thinking about utopia (and its practices) into the school curriculum.

  • Projects associated with the new undergraduate history “Source Lab.”

  • Development of a resources website with the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library of the University.

  • Various public events, including films, speakers, performances, etc.

Yearly Themes of the Three-Year Project

  • Year I (2014-15): Conceptualizing.  Ways utopia/dystopia have been imagined and interpreted globally—especially as “history.”
  • Year II (2015-2016): Practices and Materialities.  We are exploring (subject to your ideas and the evolution of our collective thinking) the ways everyday life has been a site for imagining and creating alternatives to dominant practices, past and present, and in the utopian/dystopian/heterotopian aspects of spaces, architecture, festivals, revolutionary movements, intentional communities, music, display, sexualities, and other material practices. While Year I focused on theories and conceptualizations, Year II focuses on the paradoxical unity of utopian desire and everyday practice, abstraction and materiality, impulse and enactment, impossible otherness and real viability – in the past and the present.

  • Year III:  To be imagined and built.  We will explore global utopias in ways to be shaped by the encounters and participants in these first two years.

Coordinated by:

  • Mark Steinberg (steinb@illinois.edu)
  • assisted by Deirdre Ruscitti Harshman (ruscitt2@illinois.edu). 

*All of the above information about the project comes from the Global Utopias Project homepage.