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02: Utopias and alternative (visions of) worlds

Seminar / Seminar
english language

How does vicariously experiencing radically better (or worse) imaginary worlds change our perceptions of the past, present, and future? The seminar will address this question with a highly selective introduction to utopian expression. We begin with the grandfather of the genre, Thomas More s Utopia, and its Classical, Arcadian, and religious roots. Next we examine 18th-century unambiguous and satirical spatial and time travel utopias (Defoe, Mercier, Schnabel, Swift) and the paradigmatic 19th-century utopia, Edward Bellamy s Looking Backward, in the contexts of William Morris s response, the utopian satire of Samuel Butler’s satiric Erehwon, and Black Elk / Neihardt s reconstruction of a Lakota vision. The variety of 20th- and 21st-century utopian and dystopian expression will be suggested in examinations of classic and recent dystopias (Zamiatin, Huxley, Orwell, and Cormac McCarthy), psychological eupsychias (B.F. Skinner and Abraham Maslow), ecotopias (Callenbach and the White Hawk, Texas community vs. Disney World), and feminist utopias (Gilman, Piercy, and Le Guin).

Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Arlington
Professor für Literaturwissenschaft und Neuere deutsche Literatur, Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur, Universität zu Köln

Ph.D. Kenneth M. ROEMER

Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Arlington

Assistant Editor, American Quarterly & Teaching Assistant, American, Civ., University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor Associate Professor Assistant Dean, Graduate School, University of Texas at Arlington Visiting Professor, Shimane University, Japan Visiting Professor, International Christian University, Japan & Senior Scientiest Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Professor of English, University of Texas at Arlington
since 1988
since 1982

Dr. Wilhelm VOSSKAMP

Professor für Literaturwissenschaft und Neuere deutsche Literatur, Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur, Universität zu Köln

Promotion in Kiel Habilitation in Köln o. Prof. für Literaturwissenschaft, Bielefeld Direktor am Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung o. Prof. für Neuere deutsche Literatur, Köln
 Studium der Germanistik, Philosophie, Geschichte
seit 1987
 Gastprofessuren in den USA, Israel, Frankreich, Brasilien, Australien, Schweiz

Seminar Week

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15:00 - 15:30Opening of the European Forum Alpbach 2008Plenary
15:30 - 17:00Opening speechesPlenary
17:00 - 18:30Presentation of the seminarsPlenary
18:30 - 21:00Opening receptionSocial


Seminar 01: Climate change and what we need to do about itSeminar
Seminar 02: Utopias and alternative (visions of) worldsSeminar
Seminar 03: Wirtschaftsforschung und WirtschaftspolitikSeminar
Seminar 04: Geschichtliche Situationsdeutungen und historische EntscheidungenSeminar
Seminar 05: A European people? Perception and formation of European citizensSeminar
Seminar 06: Ethics and biomedicine: Analysis of decisions and value judgementsSeminar
Seminar 07: Security policy becoming a European issueSeminar


Seminar 08: Who is in control? How the brain controls our thoughts and actionsSeminar
Seminar 09: PredictabilitySeminar
Seminar 10: Public opinion, opinion research and political decision-makingSeminar
Seminar 11: Transatlantic relationsSeminar
Seminar 12: Understanding fundamentalism: An interdisciplinary analysis of “Strong Religion”Seminar
Seminar 13: “Global Constitutional Network” – Limits and Possibilities of (Inter-)national JurisdictionsSeminar
Seminar 14: Art and perceptionSeminar


18:30 - 19:30Special Lecture: Europe – Strategic decisions for the continentPlenary


15:30 - 17:00Plenary session: Climate change and PredictabilityPlenary


17:00 - 18:30Plenary session: 40 years after the Prague SpringPlenary


15:30 - 17:00Plenary session: What has remained of 1968?Plenary