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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The term utopia typically conjures up naive, impractical, and superficial notions of a perfect society. This book offers a less stereotyped and more complex view of utopias—of their history, their varying manifestations, and their reflection of the societies from which they hail.

Segal connects past to present utopianism, from the first utopias in ancient

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Overview

The term utopia typically conjures up naive, impractical, and superficial notions of a perfect society. This book offers a less stereotyped and more complex view of utopias—of their history, their varying manifestations, and their reflection of the societies from which they hail.

Segal connects past to present utopianism, from the first utopias in ancient Greece through their flourishing in the Renaissance to the famous "dystopias" of Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin in the twentieth century and right up to present-day high tech and virtual utopias.

The book explores the many genres in which utopianism has expressed itself—-prophecies and oratory, writings, political movements, world's fairs, physical communities, and cyberspace communities. The book shows that, far from an exclusively Western enterprise, utopias have been worldwide, appearing in regions such as Latin America and Asia. With the current strong interest in utopias, now conceived as cyberspace paradises or as the result of high-tech advances, this book offers a timely appraisal of the joys and pitfalls of utopian thought.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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:
9781405183291
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
05/29/2012
Series:
Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion Series, #45
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(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

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