Rethinking Utopia and Utopianism

Rethinking Utopia and Utopianism

The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited and Other Essays

Lyman Tower Sargent


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«These influential essays by one of the world’s leading experts in the field revisit the central methodological debates in Utopian Studies over the past half century. They include recent commentary on the development of key disagreements respecting the concepts of utopia, eutopia and dystopia, as well as the relations between the three ‘faces’ of the subject, literature, ideas or theory, and intentional communities. Sargent’s encyclopaedic knowledge of utopianism is deployed throughout to illuminate many areas of concern. This collection provides an essential starting-point for any student of this vibrant, controversial, increasingly popular, and ever-mutating subject.»

(Gregory Claeys, Professor Emeritus of History, University of London)

«Utopia is about change, and how better to promote it than to model it? Here a world-leading bibliographer and scholar reconsiders his considerable opus with an open mind but no less passion for his urgently timely topic. The imperfect, critical utopia – whether in fiction, practice, or theory, whether as dystopian warning or eutopian inspiration – is the only one we can trust. Sargent rejects the naysaying of cynics and anti-utopians, urging us to envision and struggle for betterment. ‘Utopias will not go away,’ he contends. ‘They will always remain the conscience of the world.’ Indeed they won’t, and indeed they will.»

(Michael S. Cummings, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of

Political Science, University of Colorado, Denver)

«This collection makes available Professor Sargent’s most important essays on utopia, particularly those dealing with attempts to define and delimit the genre. This is an absolutely essential work which reveals the full breath of Sargent’s contributions to the study of utopia.»

(Peter Fitting, Professor Emeritus of French, University of Toronto)

«Sargent’s contribution to the emergence of Utopian Studies as a distinct field is unparalleled. It comprises encyclopaedic knowledge, theoretical rigour, and tireless support of new work. This volume contains seminal essays notable for their impact, but also for their clarity, originality, and erudition. To have them together in one place, with his reflections on them, is an invaluable resource for both young and established scholars – and essential reading for anyone working in the field.»

(Ruth Levitas, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Bristol)

Utopianism envisions a significantly different society than the current one and includes utopian literature, intentional communities, and utopian social theory. This volume reprints some of the author’s articles on utopianism together with two not previously published and notes on how they came to be written and his reflections from 2021.


Lyman Tower Sargent:

Lyman Tower Sargent is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has been a Visiting Professor at universities in the UK and New Zealand, and a fellow at the Institutes of Advanced Studies in Princeton and the University of Nottingham and other research centers. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scholars Award by the Society for Utopian Studies and the Communal Studies Association and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Utopian Studies Society/Europe.