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Transgressive Utopianism

Essays in Honor of Lucy Sargisson


Edited By Raffaella Baccolini and Lyman Tower Sargent

In 2014, when Lucy Sargisson was promoted to professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, at the University of Nottingham, she became the first and, so far, only, professor of utopian studies. This choice symbolized the centrality of utopianism to her life, thought, and educational practice. In three books, each in their own way groundbreaking, a fourth book co-authored by one of us, and in important articles, her work falls into four primary areas: political theory, feminism, environmentalism, and intentional communities, with much of her work intersecting two, three, or even all four. And in all her work, she brings the lens of utopianism to bear on the subject and, in doing so, illuminates both utopianism and the subject at hand. The volume honors Sargisson’s contributions to the field of utopian studies, with contributions by Ibtisam Ahmed, Raffaella Baccolini, David M. Bell, Suryamayi Clarence-Smith, Chris Coates, Elena Colombo, Davina Cooper, Rhiannon Firth, Ruth Levitas, Sarah Lohmann, Almudena Machado-Jiménez, Dunja M. Mohr, Tom Moylan, Robyn Muir, José Reis, Lyman Tower Sargent, Lucy Sargisson, Simon Spiegel, Maria Varsam, and Laura Winter.

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Foreword (Ruth Levitas)



Lucy: warmth sheds light

on different paths towards

a better future.

It is a pleasure to be invited to write a foreword to this Festschrift for Lucy Sargisson which has been compiled to mark her early retirement from her post as Professor of Utopian Studies at the University of Nottingham. She is, I think, the first, and possibly the only, person to be awarded that title, and it is well-earned. Although her academic career has been shorter than some, she leaves an impressive legacy and has played a key part in the development of utopianism as a field of study. One part of this, the most public and most obvious, is a body of writing. Her first book, Contemporary Feminist Utopianism (1996), was based on her PhD thesis and quickly became a key source for feminist work in the field. This early work combined political and social theory, and the explication of complex texts, with literary analysis. That vision was broadened further over the years, bringing sometimes marginal themes of feminism, ecology, interpersonal relations as well as questions of property relations into the mainstream of utopian analysis. Her last major book, Fool’s Gold? (2012), widened her scope further. In looking at expressions of utopianism in the twenty-first century she encompassed architecture, robotics, computer gaming, sexual identity, and intentional communities as well as utopian and dystopian literature.

Most utopian scholars have focused on one of three areas of utopian expression – political thought, literature,...

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