Welcome to the Year of Utopia

utopiaThomas More’s little traveler’s tale of an ideal, recently discovered island of Utopia (literally, “Nowhere”) was first published 500 years ago, in 1516. Our own King Utopus—Dean Olin, that is—has decreed that 2015-16 shall be the Year of Utopia in the College of Arts and Science.

All manner of discourse, activity, events, and impromptu reflections on topics utopian and dystopian shall be fair game, and this web site can serve to coordinate and inspire them. Utopia has generated countless imitations and counter-utopias (dystopias), and, what is more, social experiments—let’s see what transpires in our own midst.

All of us are welcome. We’ve heard ideas and thoughts already from many sections of our community: historians, political scientists, and literary people to be sure, but also art historians, musicians and theatre people. We’re going to throw out some bait, and try to hook some scientists into the mix.

Two things will help us get started. First, look at our list of courses devoted in whole or part to Utopian and dystopian topics.

Second, Michael Mendle will give a kick-off talk on Thomas More’s Utopia at 4:00 pm on September 16 in 205 Gorgas Library.

A final thought: one goal of The Year of Utopia is to give all of us in A&S a chance to sample our own cooking—to discover our riches across the College. Another is to bring interested students into contact with us and the culture of the mind in settings both within and beyond the classroom.

So join us.

Michael Mendle (mmendle@ua.edu) for the Committee on Utopia

Cassie Smith, English
Rebecca Allen, Psychology
Rekha Nath, Philosophy
Richard Richards, Philosophy
Seth Panitch, Theater
Eric Weisbard, AMS
Joe Hornsby, Blount