Utopian Horizons

Ideology, Politics, Literature
$79.00 / €69.00 / £63.00
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Publication date: 
264 pages

The 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia has directed attention toward the importance of utopianism. This book investigates the possibilities of cooperation between the humanities and the social sciences in the analysis of 20th century and contemporary utopian phenomena. The papers deal with major problems of interpreting utopias, the relationship of utopia and ideology, and the highly problematic issue as to whether utopia necessarily leads to dystopia. Besides reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary utopian investigations, the eleven essays effectively represent the constructive attitudes of utopian thought, a feature that not only defines late 20th- and 21st-century utopianism, but is one of the primary reasons behind the rising importance of the topic.

The volume’s originality and value lies not only in the innovative theoretical approaches proposed, but also in the practical application of the concept of utopia to a variety of phenomena which have been neglected in the utopian studies paradigm, especially to the rarely discussed Central European texts and ideologies.

Introduction – Utopianism: Literary and Political
Zsolt Czigányik

PART ONE Utopia with a Political Focus
Ideology and Utopia: Karl Mannheim and Paul Ricoeur
Lyman Tower Sargent
When Does Utopianism Produce Dystopia?
Gregory Claeys
From the Political Utopia to the Philosophical Utopia—and Rescuing the Political Utopia, on Second Thought
Fátima Vieira
Third Way Utopianism: Anarcho-Democratic and Liberal Socialist Ideas in Central Europe
András Bozóki and Miklós Sükösd
George Orwell, Soviet Studies, and the “Soviet Subjectivity” Debate
Dmitry Halavach

PART TWO Utopia with a Literary Focus
Marxist Utopianism and Modern Irish Drama, 1884–1904: William Morris, W. B. Yeats, and G. B. Shaw
Eglantina Remport
Civil Religion as Utopian Ideology: A Case Study of H. G. Wells
Károly Pintér
Negative Utopia in Central Europe: Kazohinia and the Dystopian Political Climate of the 1930s
Zsolt Czigányik
What They Were Going to Do About It: Huxley’s Peace Pamphlet in Pre-War Hungary
Ákos Farkas
The City in Ruins: Post-9/11 Representations of Cataclysmic New York on Film
Vera Benczik
Realism and Utopianism Reconsidered: A Political Theoretical Reading of A Song of Ice and Fire
Zoltán Gábor Szűcs

Zsolt Czigányik

"What makes this study such a unique reading on the subject of utopia is established in its purpose of reuniting the two perspectives, aiming, as the editor informs us, at 'taking a step further on the road to understanding the complex and controversial nature of utopia'. It brings together innovative theoretical approaches and practical applications of the utopian studies on neglected Central European ideologies and texts, in order to show the complexity of the fascinating genre and its infinite possibility of envisioning, through both literary and political lenses, improved realities."
"Utopia is contextual and so is the research into the subject matter. The present work of Central European inquiries into utopia is attached to a cultural spine, that is neither Anglo-American nor too concerned with capitalism. Most of the essays convey a sharp sense of the historical transition of the region over the last century-and-a-half from feudalism and empire to fascism, communism, capitalism, and emerging and incipient democracies. Czigányik brackets the essays with an introduction and an afterword. He stresses the importance of a cross-disciplinary approach and - using Hayden White as his theoretical mainstay - gives a fair amount of space to demonstrating the interaction between literary studies and the social sciences."
"This book is the outcome of a workshop on utopia and ideology organized in Budapest under the auspices of the Central European University’s Institute for Advanced Study in cooperation with the Humanities Initiative in 2014. As the editor states in his Introduction it can also be regarded as a late contribution to the 2016 quincentenary of the publication of Thomas More’s classic Utopia. The articles here are classified into the two main sections of the book entitled 'utopia with a political focus' and 'utopia with a literary focus'. In his concluding remarks, the editor expresses his hope that the book may ultimately lead its readers to maintaining the possibility of human civilization in the next five hundred years.”
"A színvonalas kötet célkitûzése szerint az utópia különféle vetületeinek a vizsgálata révén kívánja együttmûködésre serkenteni a bölcsészettudományok és a társadalomtudományok képviselõit, és emellett, szinte járulékosan felvonultatja a terület legrangosabb magyar és külföldi kutatóit, vagyis címével maximális összhangban egy több szempontból is Közép-Európára koncentráló panorámát nyújt az utópiakutatás mai helyzetérõl. Az olvasó érdeklõdését végig fenntartó, koncentráltan gondolatébresztõ dolgozatok végére érve nem lehet nem átérezni az interdiszciplinaritás kétségtelen hasznát az utópiakutatás területén. A kötet kiválóan példázza, hogy az ötszáz éve használt, de a huszadik században jelentõs leértékelõdésen átesett fogalom az e kötet által küldetésszerûen végzett újraértékelést követõen milyen sokféle módon gazdagíthatja ismereteinket nem csupán az irodalmi utópiákról, de a legkülönbözõbb társadalmi-politikai jelenségekrõl; az utópia ötszáz év után is a jövõbe vetett hit... more
"Utopian Horizons is a recent contribution to the ever-expanding field of utopian studies. It seeks to engage with utopianism specifically from a Central European perspective, rupturing the sometimes hegemonic view of utopian studies as a discipline dominated by the Anglo-American/Western European traditions. I am pleased that work such as this is being produced and I hope that there is more to come, because it is all too easy to fall victim to tunnel vision even as one is acutely aware that there is a world beyond one’s own. I was energized, intrigued, and productively perplexed by many of these chapters. They are extremely well researched and many are eloquently written, which is not always the case with academic writing. This is a wonderful collection and will appeal not only to specialists, but also to readers interested in how to make the world a better place without letting it go to hell."
"The collection offers much more than an outline of the present state of utopian studies. In fact, the book is a sincere confrontation with the tormenting questions shaping the present-day identity of the area: how to treat the concept of utopia at a point in history where our notions have already been contaminated by the bitter experience of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes? Is utopia capable of having any meaningful social function in a post-Communist epoch, particularly in a Central-European setting? Is there any use to utopias or are we now simply beyond this seriously abused concept? These troubling questions are answered by the volume with important theoretical considerations, in-depth historical contextualisation, and practical textual analyses, eventually confirming the legitimacy of the concept in contemporary literature and thinking. The proposed answers are all the more convincing because they come from two different areas: social sciences and literary studies,... more
"The editor’s introduction, apart from providing a useful overview of the reception of utopia, considers the problem of the ways in which fiction, an indispensable element of literary utopias, affects their possible ideological impact. This is a highly relevant issue all too often ignored in utopian studies, despite repeated claims to the contrary. 'Utopian Horizons' constitutes an interesting and valuable contribution to utopian studies, the more so as some contributors focus on various manifestations of utopianism in the Hungarian context, virtually unknown to most Western scholars. The book as a whole is highly informative, insightful, and accessible, avoiding the excesses of theoretical and quasi-theoretical jargon, which radically expands its potential readership."