Fall 2021


Moodle site: Course


Karen R. Koehler (Section 01)


This course is an examination of utopian plans in literature, architecture, art, aesthetics, and political philosophy. We will consider the role of time and history in utopian schemes—how different projections about life in the future are based on fierce criticisms of the present, and often rely on invented or nostalgic views of social organizations in times past. The class will cover a selection of literary and theoretical utopias, beginning with Sir Thomas More, and ending with Octavia Butler, along with a range of visionary artists and designers—from Campanella's “City of the Sun” in the Renaissance to Le Corbusier’s “City of Three Million” in the twentieth century. How design affects the relationship of the individual to the community will be explored, incorporating questions of race, gender, and class. We will also examine the tensions between utopian theory and practice, by looking at the successes and failures of actual attempts at living in utopian communities. The course will conclude with a discussion of the contemporary sensations of dystopia and chaos, and of climate change and sustainable design, as we consider whether utopian thinking is applicable to the twenty-first century. Students will learn how to analyze real and imagined societies in novels, treatises, pictures, buildings, and plans. Projects include short essays, a midterm presentation, a group design project (no prior experience required), and a final paper of the student’s choosing—on any utopian image, film, text, performance, or work of imaginary architecture or planning.

Fall Semester. Visiting Professor Koehler.


Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021