Utopia across Cultures: A Workshop

Date: 16 February 2018
Time: 10.00-16.00h
Venue: University Library – Vondelzaal, Singel 425
Open to: PhD candidates and RMa students; members of OSL will have first access
Lecturer: dr Barnita Bagchi, Utrecht University

This masterclass invites advanced postgraduate students to explore the mobile, cross-cultural nature of utopia. Even if the word was invented in Europe in 1516 by Thomas More, utopia has manifestations in and has travelled between all inhabited continents, for example in Asia, through Buddhism. The heuristic mode so crucial to utopian writing, which is usefully seen as a kind of speculative writing,  plays in richly varied ways with thinking across cultures. Utopia articulates dreams of a better life and anticipations of the future (Bloch, 1954-1959); a ‘social dreaming’ (Claeys and Sargent 1999), utopia combines social and imaginative experimentation. In this masterclass, students will be thinking through how the transcultural plays out in utopian writing from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Afrofuturism and hybrid aesthetics influenced by South Asian cultures are in focus. We will discuss literary and critical texts by Octavia Butler, Salman Rushdie, Lyman Tower Sargent and others.