Myths and Blueprints: Enacting Utopia through Fiction
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The study of utopia generally takes place in isolation from empirical social science based on its classification as either political theory or literary genre. While both approaches are well-suited to the academic study of a concept that does not exist in reality, each on its own also lacks the kind of efficacy that could be offered by an integrated situation of utopia in the "real" world. This paper seeks to incorporate utopian thinking into contemporary social and political context by utilizing both fiction and critical theory as a lens for the "real" world. It also considers both blueprint and myth as authorial choices for enacting fiction into reality.
This paper begins with an introduction to and justification for the study of literature as political theory, suggesting various mechanisms for the translation of one into the other. Next, it examines contemporary political theories of utopia and their applicability to fiction-as-motivator. Furthermore, it establishes the practical nature of an impractical genre by proposing two methods for enacting social change through utopian fiction, namely, the use of myth and blueprint as vehicles for theory. These methods are further investigated through case study examples of each, with Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward as an example of utopian blueprint and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland as a model of utopian myth.
- Masters Theses