Utopia and Ideology

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Course Description: 

Utopianism is usually understood in everyday discourse as irrational and irresponsible dreaming about the future. A similar view is maintained by Marxists, and also by Karl Mannheim, who, observing the disastrous results of certain 20th century totalitarian utopian ideologies condemns utopianism as a whole.Here the course has a twofold objective; first, by acquainting studentswith important texts of utopian and dystopian (negative utopian) thought, analyses the utopian impulse as a source of imagination and dynamism in the social sciences and also as an intersection of literary fiction and political thought. The involvemenof literature in the understanding of politics provides a platform for understanding social tensions from the individual’s point of view.

The second part of the course discusses the nature of political ideology. It offers readings on some “classic” ideologies, namely liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism (and their different combinations). Some of the texts are often  labelled as manifestations of the liberal, socialist, conservative or anarchist “utopias” and our aimto discuss the similarities and difference among them.

Learning Outcomes: 

<p>Students will be able to understand the major traditions of literary utopianism, its relationship with political ideologies and the differences between utopian and dystopian literature. With the methods of literary hermeneutics a complex analysis of such texts will be obtainable. Modern dystopias will be shown to be reactions to and criticism of contemporary social structures and trends, rather than warnings or prophecies, the way they are often interpreted. Students will also be able to identify and analyze the main characteristics of ideological thinking.</p>

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