Utopian Imaginings

Saving the Future in the Present

Edited by Victoria W. Wolcott

Subjects: American Studies, History, Religion, Cultural Studies, Feminist
Series: SUNY series, Humanities to the Rescue
Hardcover : 9781438497518, 282 pages, April 2024
Paperback : 9781438497495, 282 pages, April 2024

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Victoria W. Wolcott

Part I: Toward a Utopian History

1. From "Surcharged Sympathy" to a "Cold Current of Neglect": The Rev. Thomas James, Abolitionism, and Black Expectations for a Racial Utopia in Reconstruction America
Francis J. Butler and Jennifer Hull Dorsey

2. Black Cooperators: Owenism and Utopia in Black America
Victoria W. Wolcott

3. "The Women Activists Found Little Peace at Bucolic School": Utopian Dreams, Radical Feminist Nightmares, and the Pedagogical Potential of Sagaris
Katelyn M. Campbell

Part II: Toward a Utopian Method

4. Utopian Imaginings: Migration as the Pursuit of the Utopian Society
Secil E. Ertorer

5. Public Ritual and Utopia: How Torn Space Theater's Creative Placemaking Strategies Activate the Public Realm
Dan Shanahan

Part III: Toward a Troubled Utopia

6. Repossessing Utopia from Below: Black/Feminist/Queer Utopianism in American Political Thought
Alix Olson and Alex Zamalin

7. "If you don't love children, you don't understand socialism": The Children of Peoples Temple
Alexandra Leah Prince

8. Kabbalah, Sex Magic, and the Trans-Utopia: Powerful Genderings and Sexualities in the Zohar and Moshe Cordovero's Writings
Marla Segol

Part IV: Toward a Utopian Pedagogy

9. Migrantopias: Teaching the Dystopian/Utopian Narratives of Migration through a Pedagogy of Hope
Richard Reitsma

10. The Classroom as a Community of Learning: Confronting Utopia by Teaching Dystopia
Anita C. Butera

11. The Impossible Project: A Utopian Pedagogy for a Dystopian Moment
Dalia Antonia Caraballo Muller


Challenges readers to use utopian thinking and practice to counter the conditions of the present and create an alternative future.


"Sometimes that's all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time." These words were spoken by a fictional character in N. K. Jemisin's 2019 utopian novella Emergency Skin. But the idea of saving the world through utopian imaginings has a deep and profound history. At this moment of rupture—with the related crises of the pandemic, racial uprisings, and climate change converging—Utopian Imaginings revisits this history to show how utopian thought and practice offer alternative paths to the future. The third book in the Humanities to the Rescue series, the volume examines both lived and imagined utopian communities from an interdisciplinary perspective. While attentive to the troubled and troubling elements of different spaces and collectives, Utopian Imaginings remains premised in hope, culminating in a series of inspiring exemplars of the utopian potential of the college classroom today.

Victoria W. Wolcott is Professor of History and Director of the Gender Institute at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She is the author of Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement; Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America; and Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit.