The Utopia Reader, Second Edition

576 pages

February, 2017

ISBN: 9781479837076



Add to Cart Available: 1/13/2017

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Gregory Claeys is Professor of the History of Political Thought at the University of London, and author of several books.

All books by Gregory Claeys

Lyman Tower Sargent, Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, is author and editor of numerous books including Extremism in America and Political Thought in the United States.

All books by Lyman Tower Sargent

The Utopia Reader compiles primary texts from a variety of authors and movements in the history of theorizing utopias.
Utopianism is defined as the various ways of imagining, creating, or analyzing the ways and means of creating an ideal or alternative society. Prominent writers and scholars across history have long explored how or why to envision different ways of life. The volume includes texts from classical Greek literature, the Old Testament, and Plato’s Republic, to Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and beyond. By balancing well-known and obscure examples, the text provides a comprehensive and definitive collection of the various ways Utopias have been conceived throughout history and how Utopian ideals have served as criticisms of existing sociocultural conditions.

This new edition includes many historically well-known works, little known but influential texts, and contemporary writings, providing an even more expansive coverage of the varieties of approaches and responses to the concept of utopia in the past, present, and even the future. In particular, the volume now includes feminist writings and work by authors of color, and contends with current concerns, such as the exploration of the ecological ideals of Utopia. Furthermore, Claeys and Sargent highlight twenty-first century trends and popular narrative explorations of Utopias through the genres of young adult dystopias, survivalist dystopias, and non-print utopias. Covering a range of original theories of utopianism and revealing the nuances and concerns of writers across history as they attempt to envision different, ideal societies, The Utopia Reader is an essential resource for anyone who envisions a better future.


  • "The Utopia Reader will serve well as an undergraduate textbook and is compact enough to carry in a backpack. For researchers, the excerpts, suggested readings, and editorial insights make this text a valuable launching point. This second edition is well worth adding to any collection, even where the first edition is already in the stacks."


  • "How utopian—to see something that was very good get better. This second edition includes an expanded introduction that addresses the complexities of defining utopia, significant additions to several sections, and an entirely new section on the 21st century that includes young adult dystopias and non-print utopias."

    —Kenneth Roemer, author of Utopian Audiences

  • "The Utopia Reader is the place to start a literary voyage into new futures, possible futures, and dangerous alternative futures. These well-selected readings let the reader know that there is neither a shared perfect future nor a shared perfect interpretation. Accessible and provocative.”

    —Jean Pfaelzer, author of The Utopian Novel in America: the Politics of a Literary Form