Utopia and its Discontents

English, School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies

College of Arts and Law


Code 20858

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 2

Pre-requisite modules You must have completed at least two years of appropriate study in this discipline.

Module description

This module examines utopias from the classical period to the twentieth century. It explores ways in which projections of the ideal state address the political, social, and economic challenges of their own age. But we will also see how these works engage with similar themes, such as the limits of personal freedom, the nature of justice, the role of women, the distribution of wealth, and the education of the young. The module will consider ways in which later utopian projections challenge and revise earlier ones: William Morris, for example, rejects in his News from Nowhere the rigid hierarchical family unit which underpinned Thomas More’s vision of commonwealth in Utopia. Students will be usually expected to study one primary text a week, and to read more widely (as directed) about the specific issues each text raises.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture, seminars, and workshops