Aug 29

Don’t mess with perfection: that’s the promise, as well as the trap, of utopian visions. Utopian theory criticizes existing worlds, offering plans for a better society, and better people to stock it. Since one person’s utopia can be another’s dystopia, this “good society” often intensifies tensions it promises to resolve. We will study modern utopias and dystopias as theories of society, as expressions of sociological perspectives, and imaginations of alternative worlds. Along the way, we will watch as utopianism shifts from a collective to an individual vision. We use sociology to explore the possibilities and limits of utopian thinking, and turn the tables, using utopias to rethink the uses of sociology

The objectives of this class are simple: to learn a little bit about the pleasures of sociology, to learn a little bit about competing utopian visions of the world and their role in creating our current society, and to learn a little bit about negotiating the sometimes utopian and sometimes dystopian world of the liberal arts college.