Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities

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by Howard P. Segal
     
 

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This brief history connects the past and present of utopian thought, from the first utopias in ancient Greece, right up to present day visions of cyberspace communities and paradise.

  • Explores the purpose of utopias, what they reveal about the societies who conceive them, and how utopias have changed over the centuries
  • Unique in including both

Overview

This brief history connects the past and present of utopian thought, from the first utopias in ancient Greece, right up to present day visions of cyberspace communities and paradise.

  • Explores the purpose of utopias, what they reveal about the societies who conceive them, and how utopias have changed over the centuries
  • Unique in including both non-Western and Western visions of utopia
  • Explores the many forms utopias have taken – prophecies and oratory, writings, political movements, world's fairs, physical communities – and also discusses high-tech and cyberspace visions for the first time
  • The first book to analyze the implicitly utopian dimensions of reform crusades like Technocracy of the 1930s and Modernization Theory of the 1950s, and the laptop classroom initiatives of recent years

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Segal does not shy away from bold definitions and delineations to separate utopias from millenarianism and science fiction, from abstract utopias and daydreams. ...Utopias is an accessible and thought-provoking introduction to utopias and utopianism and will appeal to scholars, students, and the general reader alike." (Utopian Studies, 1 October 2015)

"In the capable hands of Howard P. Segal, professor of history at the University of Maine, technology rightfully has an important role in the imagination of alternative societies. His concise, well-written book covers utopias ancient and modern, Western and non-Western, and it is not limited to fiction conventionally labeled utopian but includes world’s fairs, social science, digital media, prophecies, millennial movements, and science fiction." (Technology and Culture, 1 October 2015)

“To conclude: Segal’s book on utopias is a well-made treatise on an important aspect of European and American history. He convincingly shows that utopias had a political, as well as an economic, relevance. The view on the interaction between different cultural systems, such as art, politics, religion, technology, and economics, is a great strength of the book. It shows how complex processes around utopian visions have been, and how relevant they are for the implementation and change of different cultural spheres.” (Religion, 30 May 2015)

“This text provides a unique approach for teaching history and the history of science. Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice, 1 February 2013)

“Segal brings considerable scholarship and experience to bear, particularly on the historical intersections between technology and utopia ... [He] covers several continents and many centuries, addressing key texts and thinkers ... [and] supplies impressive coverage and thoughtful interpretations.” (Times Higher Education, 12 July 2012)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781405183284
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
05/22/2012
Series:
Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion Series, #44
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
862,527
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A 'near perfect' account of utopias and utopian thinking of the past, present, and future. Historian Howard Segal revisits utopian ideologies revealing their perennial appeal, their use and misuse of technology, and their considerable power to reshape society, then and now."
James Rodger Fleming, Colby College

"An expansive, entertaining and provocative introduction to utopianism and its practitioners ... Utopias captures both the whimsical extravagance as well as the earnestness of attempts (western as well as non-western) to imagine better futures and then actually create better societies across the ages ... [It] is bound to stimulate thought on the subject, and will appeal to a wide readership."
Greg Claeys, University of London

"Segal offers a focus on 'western' expressions of utopianism while devoting substantial space to diversity. Hence we find the expected discussions of literature from More to Bellamy and Wells and beyond ... but there are also interesting examinations of utopias from China, Japan, India, and Latin America; and subsections on World's Fairs, professional forecasters, cyberspace, Megaprojects, social media, E-books, and George Lucas's Edutopia."
Kenneth M. Roemer, University of Texas at Arlington

"The potential for good of science and technology, and their manifest dangers and pitfalls, are vividly evoked by Segal in his accessible account of utopias past and present. This is a work of insight and reflection."
Barbara Goodwin, University of East Anglia

Meet the Author

Howard P. Segal is Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine, where he has taught since 1986. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. His previous books include Technological Utopianism in American Culture (1985), Future Imperfect: The Mixed Blessings of Technology in America (1994), Technology in America: A Brief History (1989, 1999, with Alan Marcus), and Recasting the Machine Age: Henry Ford's Village Industries (2005). He also reviews for, among other publications, Nature and the Times Higher Education.

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Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We all have ideas about what an "ideal" world might be like; this book shows the variety of ways in which different groups and individuals have conceived of improved societies and cultures. It's particularly interesting to take ideas that are centuries old and see them applied to our perceptions of present-day technologies. A most enjoyable and interesting book.