Course Schedule

Class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 to 11:45 am. Four study groups meet separately at their own designated times. Each reading assignment is to be done by the date of specified class meeting (indicated below). The schedule of assignments is subject to change when necessary. This site has the most accurate, up-to-date changes.

I. Utopia as a Plan for “A Better Place”

We begin the course by addressing the problem of utopian thinking as an avenue for social change. In this section we will delve deeply into analyzing Utopia, the life of its author, Thomas More, and the historical context of Reformation Europe. More addresses the problem of utopia without any clear answer. Does this introduction of utopian ideals necessarily lead to more socially cohesive societies? How does the establishment of “a better place” or “a more perfect union” deal with the will of the individual?

2. Utopian Experiments, Radical and Reactionary

In this section of the course, we will turn to other historical examples from the eras of social conflict from the radical reformations of the medieval church in Europe to the revolutions in political and cultural systems in France, and the rapid urbanization and industrialization in England. The first of these examples show how Anabaptist communities looked to establish the kingdom of God through biblical principles, such as “the community of goods,” evoked in Acts 2. Then, we uncover the eschatological tenets such as “a New Heaven and a New Earth” in the 16 century city of Munster. We will delve into Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s revolutionary notion of a social contract and how it became the template for the first French Republic’s Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. We will also study the legacies of these social movements among the more conservative Amish community, and revolutionaries’ motto of liberty, equality and fraternity.

3. “The City on a Hill” Utopian planners, intentional communities, and an urban fiction fantasy

This last unit of the course focuses on the city as the site par excellence for the construction of social utopias. The “spatial play” and “utopianism of process” concepts forwarded by David Harvey provide a theoretical lens through which we can analyze intentional communal experiments in the US. The last six weeks of the semester will be focused on independent research of past utopian communities whose plans were derived from 19th century utopian socialists. Our final class reading, Iron Council, presents a futuristic vision of urban re-ordering with its “subterranean emotions and political passions “– China Miéville’s city of New Crobuzan — “in which utopian dreams have a particular place.”

Week 15

Apr 18              Read: China Miéville, Iron Council, Chapters 26 to end, pp. 445-564. Student-led discussion, Group 4 (New Crobuzoners)
DRAFT OF SEMINAR PAPER DUE AT MIDNIGHT, APRIL 18th. Individual conferences w/Dr. Watts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

(Apr 19 Tuesday)     Student Q&A with Miéville in Adams Auditorium at noon.
*** Tuesday, Lecture by China Miéville at 4:30 pm in Keller Hall ***

Apr 20              Review guidelines for research e-portfolios
Student Q&A with Miéville in International Commos at 4 pm.
*** Miéville Reading his work at 7 pm in Ukrop Auditorium ***

BLOG POST 6: “How does what I’ve learned about social utopias, past and present, influence my interpretation of the sources in my seminar paper?” (Post by Friday, April 22)

Week 14

Apr 11           Writing workshop 4: Revising for cohesion and coherence         Complete exercises 5.1 and 5.3 in Williams & Bizup, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (on BB). Bring a typed copy of a paragraph from your seminar paper to class for this workshop.

Apr 13             Read: China Miéville, Iron Council, Chapters 14-25, pp. 299-444.  Student-led discussion of Miéville, Group 2 (Bundschuh)

BLOG POST 5: “How does my research address the problem(s) of utopia? What connections could I make with More’s Utopia in my seminar paper?” (Post by Friday, April 15)

Week 13:

Apr 4               Writing workshop 3 — The architecture of research paper
Bring a copy of your seminar paper “skeleton” to class. Be sure it includes an introduction (however rough and unfinished), a set of topics/topic sentences, and evidence (quotes, bullet points) with a list of sources to support each topic/idea in your paper. We will be working on these together in class.

Apr 6               Read: China Miéville, Iron Council, pp. 151-295
Student-led discussion of Miéville, Group 1 (Tranibors)

Apr 8                Rough draft of seminar paper due at 5 pm.
Meet with Yasmine next week (April 11-15).

BLOG POST 4: “What are the hierarchies of information in my research. Other than chronologically, how can I organize your research and its claims in a logical way?” (Post due FRIDAY, April 8)

Week 12

March 28     Read: China Miéville, Iron Council, Chapters 1-13, pp. 1-148.
Writing Workshop 2: Writing a focused and compelling proposal.
Review, “What is an annotated bibliography?” on the FYS 102 LibGuide.

Mar 30             Student-led discussion of Miéville, pp. 1-148. Led by Sans-Culottes

April 1             Proposal and Annotated Bibliography due at 5 pm (email submissions accepted)
BLOG POST 3: “Why should anyone care about what I have learned from this research? What makes my findings at all interesting or relevant to this class or to my life as a UR student?” (POST DUE FRIDAY, APRIL 1)

Week 11

Write RP 5 as a 500-word abstract of one secondary source you’ve located, answering the questions: What about this source is scholarly? and How does it help me define/refine my research question?

March 23    Research Workshop: Analyzing Primary Sources
Working with your study group as a “research team,” read and discuss the primary sources on your intentional community posted on BB. Be prepared to workshop one or two of these sources with other class members in class Wednesday, March 23.

BLOG POST 2:  “How did this week’s research help me come to my final research question?” Put in BOLD your research question. (POST 2 DUE FRIDAY, MARCH 25)

Week 10

March 14    Read background sources on utopian communities in America (on BB)
1. Guaneri, Carl J. “Brook Farm and the Fourierist Phalanxes: Immediatism, Gradualism, and American Utopian Socialism”  in America’s Communal Utopias. Edited by Donald E. Pitzer. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 159-180.
2. Pitzer, Donald E. “The New Moral World of Robert Owen and New Harmony” in America’s Communal Utopias. Edited by Donald E. Pitzer. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 88-134.

March 16     Read background sources on utopian communities in America (on BB)
1. Foster, Lawrence. “Free Love and Community: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Perfectionists” in America’s Communal Utopias. Edited by Donald E. Pitzer. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 253-278.
2. Sutton, Robert. “An American Elysium: The Icarian Communities” in America’s Communal Utopias. Edited by Donald E. Pitzer. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 279-298.

BLOG POST 1: What do I find interesting or curious about this group of people? What more do I need to know to situate this community in the problem or concept of utopia?
Finish your blog with one or more broad research questions that you want to pursue.

Week 9      SPRING BREAK

Week 8

Feb 29        Read: Sources on Utopian Socialists (on BB): 1. Robert Owen, “Report to the County of Lanark” (1821) and “The Book of the New Moral World” (1844) 2. Charles Fourier, “Selections Describing the Phalanstery” (1808, 1901) 3. Albert Brisbane, “Association” (1843).

Write RP4: Each study group will submit two analytical questions for Monday’s reading.                                       The class will discuss these and then choose one to write as RP4. Due Friday noon.

March 2     Read: David Harvey, “The Spaces of Utopia” Chapter 8, pp. 133-173 (esp.159-173) in                                 Spaces of Hope. University of California Press, 2000. (on BB).

Week 7

Feb 22             Read: Sources on the French Revolution (on BB): 1. Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (1789); 2. Constitution of Year 1 (1793); 3. Women’s March on Versailles (1789); 4. Police Reports on Disturbances over Food Supplies (1793); 5. Gracchus Babeuf’s “A Society of Equals” (1796).   ESSAY 1 Due at the beginning of class.

Feb 24             Read: Sources on Utopian Socialists (on BB): 1. Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, “The Rule of the Scientists (1803), “European Community” (1814), “A Parable” (1819) 2. Saint-Simonians, The Emancipation of Women (1832); 3. Suzanne Voilquin, “Tribune des Femmes” (1832-1834).

Write RP3 (Option 2): “In what ways are the ideas of the Utopian Socialists products of a failed revolution? (turn in at the end of the day, Feb 24)

Week 6

Feb 15             CLASS CANCELLED due to inclement weather.
Read: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Books 1 & 2, pp. 49-98, and                              “Getting Ready to talk about Social Contract” (on BB)

Feb 17             Read: Rousseau, Book 3 pp. 124-139 (Chs 8-14), and Book 4 pp. 149-157 (Chs 1-3)                          and pp. 176-187 (Ch.8).

Write RP3 (Option 1): “How does Rousseau’s Social Contract address the problem of individual will in forwarding ideas of the common good? (Turn in by noon on Friday, Feb 19.)

This week you will meet with Yasmine Karam, our Writing Consultant for individual conferences to review your completed draft of Essay 1. The final version is due on Monday, Feb 22 in class.

Week 5

Feb 8               Read: Documents on the Radical Reformation in Europe on BB
Study groups prepare analytical questions to synthesize information from these sources. Each student will do an explication of a primary source in class.

Study Groups meet over the weekend to prepare oral reports on primary sources on the Radical Reformation and to draft analytical question that points directly to these class readings. 

Feb 10             View: PBS Documentary “The Amish” (American Experience, 2014
Read: “The Amish” Primary Resource: “Rules for a Godly Life” (link on BB)
Write: Essay 1, Introduction and Outline. Bring copy for in-class peer-review.

Feb 12 (Friday) CBL trip to Richmond Hill. Van departs at 9:30 AM, returns 11:45 AM
** Turn in finished draft of Essay 1 by midnight. **

Week 4

Feb 1               Read: Utopia, Book 2, pp. 51-95.
Study Groups present primary sources as context.
Discuss Essay I assignment. Completed draft due Feb 12

Feb 3               Read: Utopia, Book 2, pp. 96-139.
Writing Workshop 1: The Argument
Read: They Say, I Say, pages 19 to 51 on BlackBoard
Write: They Say, I Say: Exercise 1, pages 28 to 29, AND Exercise 2, page 51

Week 3

Jan 25           Class cancelled due to inclement weather.
                      Read: Utopia, Book 1, pp. 1-25 and and “Getting Ready to Discuss Utopia” on BB

Jan 27           Read: Utopia, Book 1 pp. 26-50
Study Groups present primary sources as context.

Distribute Essay 1 on More’s Utopia, Book 1, This assignment will require you to use primary sources from the class presentations in your analysis of More’s book. Draft due Feb 12. Final version due Feb 22nd in class. 

Week 2

Jan 18             Attend MLK DAY.  Historic Walking Tour of Jackson Ward 11 am to 2 pm. Write observations on tour. Note 2 observations to blog or tweet.

Jan 20             Research: MLK’s definition of “The Beloved Community” (bring citation of the reference you found for this definition with you to class). Read: MLK sermon on BB.
Write RP2: “What evidence does Jackson Ward (past and present) provide of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of freedom and justice?”

Study Groups may elect to work together to find references to define MLK’s meaning of “beloved community.” Each of the four study groups will meet with Dr. Watts to develop strategies for their investigative reading of Utopia and help prepare for their oral reports in Week 3.

Week 1

Jan 11             Introductions. Defining a utopian community — the “top ten.” Orienting the class to the goals of the seminar. Offering examples of utopia before Thomas More’s time.

Jan 13            Read UR’s 2011 master plan and the 1914 blueprints (on BB) by President Boatwright. Visit Rare Book Room.

Write RP1: “What features of the UR campus PAST AND PRESENT evoke utopian thinking?” (500 word response paper. Due FRIDAY, Jan 15 at noon)

Study Group assignments will be sent to you over the weekend.  Meet with your study group and pick time, date and location for regular meetings. Choose two captains, a navigator and a bombardier. Share your “Top Ten” list and observations on the UR campus master plans.