Utopian Thought in the Western World

A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.  And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.   (Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism, 1891)

So this is utopia, is it?  Well I beg your pardon, I thought it was Hell.   (Max Beerbohm, Max in Verse: Rhymes and Parodies, 1963)

This study is designed to introduce the students to utopian thinking and the idea of progress from ancient times to the present.  Describing ideal or perfect societies, or oppressive, dystopian ones, utopianism challenges us to contemplate often radically different ways of life and social and political organization.  Through the study of literary, philosophical and historical texts from Plato to the present, as well as films, discussions, writings and an examination, the student will explore utopian and dystopian thinking as it relates to areas that include work, economy, leisure, class, education, family, human nature, science, and government.