Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities

By Marks, Peter | The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, July 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities


Marks, Peter, The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities. By Howard P. Segal. John Wiley & Sons. 304pp, Pounds 55.00 and Pounds 19.99. ISBN 9781405183291 and 183284. Published 19 April 2012

Utopianism is in a bad way. Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany and Pol Pot's Kampuchea are regularly disinterred as terrifying examples of humanity's attempts to actualise ideal societies, with North Korea an absurdist reminder of inglorious pasts. John Gray's Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2007) unrelentingly, if hyperbolically, branded utopian thinking with the mark of religious fanaticism, and even utopianists get defensive. Editors of the recent Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought, for example, ask whether there is any conceptual or practical space for utopian thinking "in a world marked by a chronic utopian outlook". Not surprisingly, they find reason to prosecute the case for utopianism.

So, too, does the historian Howard Segal in Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities. Segal brings considerable scholarship and experience to bear, particularly on the historical intersections between technology and utopia. His capacious knowledge is integrated further in this book's illuminating footnotes. He is particularly strong on utopian thinking and action as attempts to find and implement practical solutions to actual problems. This, he argues, constitutes the principal value of utopias, suggesting that "they should be played back upon the real world rather than be held up as crystal balls". And he makes a telling criticism of utopian scholars who privilege the Western tradition of utopian thinking over that of other cultures. Brief accounts of utopianism in places such as Latin America, Japan and India hint at alternative traditions that scholars could explore profitably.

Given the immense amount of material that might be covered, selection and emphasis are critical factors in such a book. Segal covers several continents and many centuries, addressing key texts and thinkers, and while others might deal differently with the major figures or works, the book supplies impressive coverage and thoughtful interpretations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.