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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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Literary Utopianism and Ecological Literacy (José Eduardo Reis)



In Ecological Literacy, David W. Orr, following a critical essay on the model of liberal education proposed by Allan Bloom, presents a list of books and articles he considers essential for establishing an interdisciplinary model for ecological education. Without denying the contribution of the western literary tradition for a plan of higher education suitable to build a project for a globally sustainable society, Orr highlights the bibliographical contribution made by what he calls the “utopian tradition” (124). This tradition is related to the ideal of living within a harmonious, integrated society, the world of nature, or, in less ambiguous terms, the principles of ecosystem organization. What could be called “ecological utopianism” is embedded within the complex, tense, continuous, and discrete tradition of western ideal thinking, which is, in turn, inseparable from the intellectual and ideological history of its civilizing process.

Its literary sources are to be found in such fundamental texts as the biblical Genesis, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Homer’s Odyssey. Rather than present here a genealogy of the ecological strand within literary or philosophical utopianism, whose imaginary or conceptual representations can sometimes be seen extending into the social sphere or in the form of community experiment, it is important to begin by highlighting both the contributions and, indeed, some of the tensions in the thematic content of these two texts, so as to throw some light on this ecological-utopian tradition.1 In ←109 | 110→the course of this chapter, and in support of its argument, relevant passages...

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