Week 2: ENGL112W The Utopian Tradition
Lecture #2 Notes
-Thomas More was a catholic, recurring theme of christianity and religion/spirituality.
WHERE DOES THE IDEA OF UTOPIA COME FROM?
-From the classical tradition to contemporary concerns
TO BE HUMANS IS TO BE UTOPIAN
-Lewis Mumford: “without the utopians of other times men wold still live in caves miserable and naked” - There something as
human beings where we always want something better. We start thinking of things to make things better around us and for us as
-Ruth Levitas: Utopias are “ sufﬁciently common for some commentators to speculate about the existence of a fundamental
utopian propensity in human beings” (The concept of Utopia 1) We are always thinking of making life better and easier and
increase out chances of survival - thinking toward our future, Our edge for survival was CONCEPTUAL THOUGHT
THE GREEK AND ROMAN PASTORAL TRADITION
- THE PASTORAL: (from the latin word “pastor” meaning shepherd) is a literary mode which idealizes rural life—life lived in close
proximity to harmony with nature
- THE PASTORAL: as a literary mode or motif using rural settings and people; often hearkens back to a lost connection both to
nature and to god/the gods which human social life and civilization—the development of cities, of trade, of the accumulation of
material wealth, and wars between peoples. e.g. Pastoral landscape painting: a beautiful countryside, there is always people in it and
there are animals present. Pastoral painting idealizes a land where humans do live and have economical activities such as farming
and is very diverse with animals and humans present ini the paintings.
HESOID’S WORK AND DAYS
-A greek poem written around 700 BCE—It is a sort of farmer’s almanac—a poem of agricultural instruction and advice for leading
the good life. rural life is not really idealized here, in this forerunner of pastoral poetry; it is simply assumed to be the norm.
THE POEM: HESOID ON THE “FIVE AGES OF MAN”
-He imagines a Golden Age as a time when “men lived like gods”, “untroubled by work and work” “all they did was take
pleasure in festivities” —we used to live in idealogical world, but now we live in a world of woe. We long for what we had in the
-“The land.…/never ceased from producing harvest/ effortlessly without work. With plenty everywhere, / no envy was
provoked. All their/ tasks they performed voluntarily/leisure distributed equally among the noble citizenry.” It is a time of
plenty, the golden age; part of what utopia is about. What if we had more time for pleasurable things in life. Everyone is equal in
wealth and plentiful.
BUT NOW IN THE IRON AGE
-“Neither in daytime/nor nightmare/ does pain and distress cease” Human beings will keep on doing worse and worse things to
each other and each individual wont give up until they gain the upper hand. A world of no nobility or humility or empathy.
- Pastoral poems written between 42 and 37 BCE, during a very turbulent time in Roman history—a time of civil war, th end of the
Roman Republic, and the birth of the Roman Empire