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The Good Place

Comparative Perspectives on Utopia - Proceedings of Synapsis: European School of Comparative Studies XI


Florian Mussgnug and Matthew Reza

Utopian literature provides a compelling vision of epistemological and moral clarity: a dream of harmony and justice. But in an age of surveillance, utopia is also the nightmare of a perfectly controlled, sealed and monitored world that leaves no room for ambivalence or discretion. In The Good Place, leading scholars of comparative literature explore this tension and examine the richness and diversity of utopian writing, from the genre’s earliest manifestations to the present. Utopia is seen as a tenacious force of the human imagination: a desire for renewal that manifests itself in the tension between social reality and the virtual worlds of unlived possibility. Notable for its engagement with a wide range of texts from different periods and national traditions, this book invites the reader to rethink ‘the good place’ from the specific perspective of literary studies and suggests that utopia, in the realm of fiction, is more than just a philosophical abstraction. Mediated by the experience of authors, characters and readers, utopian literature offers a transient but genuine experience of perfection, beyond the horizon of everyday lived experience.
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Notes on Contributors

← 248 | 249 →Notes on Contributors


MATTHEW BEAUMONT is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at University College London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England, 1870–1900 (2005) and The Spectre of Utopia: Utopian and Science Fictions at the Fin de Siècle (2012). He has also edited Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward for Oxford World’s Classics.

GILLIAN BEER is King Edward VII Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge and former president of Clare Hall College. Among her books are Darwin’s Plots (3rd edn, 2009), Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground (1996) and Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense: The Collected and Annotated Poems of Lewis Carroll (2012).

LAURA CARETTI, former Professor of Drama, is currently lecturing in the anthropology of performance at the University of Siena. Since 2000, she has co-directed Synapsis. In her teaching she combines theory and theatre practice. Her research and publications explore the staging and performing of Shakespeare’s plays, the art of actors and directors, drama adaptations and the interaction between theatre and cinema. She is also a translator and a reviewer of national and international performances.

GIOACHINO CHIARINI teaches Latin literature at the University of Siena, and is director of the Centro Warburg Italia in Siena. He has published widely on Latin literature, classical theatre and the history of classical culture and he has also translated numerous works. His recent books include I cieli del mito: letteratura e cosmo da Omero ad Ovidio (2005) and Mitologia astrale (2009,...

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