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Paradise Now

Author: Chris Jennings
Publisher: Random House
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For readers of Jill Lepore, Joseph J. Ellis, and Tony Horwitz comes a lively, thought-provoking intellectual history of the golden age of American utopianism—and the bold, revolutionary, and eccentric visions for the future put forward by five of history’s most influential utopian movements. In the wake of the Enlightenment and the onset of industrialism, a generation of dreamers took it upon themselves to confront the messiness and injustice of a rapidly changing world. To our eyes, the utopian communities that took root in America in the nineteenth century may seem ambitious to the point of delusion, but they attracted members willing to dedicate their lives to creating a new social order and to asking the bold question What should the future look like? In Paradise Now, Chris Jennings tells the story of five interrelated utopian movements, revealing their relevance both to their time and to our own. Here is Mother Ann Lee, the prophet of the Shakers, who grew up in newly industrialized Manchester, England—and would come to build a quiet but fierce religious tradition on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Even as the society she founded spread across the United States, the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen came to the Indiana frontier to build an egalitarian, rationalist utopia he called the New Moral World. A decade later, followers of the French visionary Charles Fourier blanketed America with colonies devoted to inaugurating a new millennium of pleasure and fraternity. Meanwhile, the French radical Étienne Cabet sailed to Texas with hopes of establishing a communist paradise dedicated to ideals that would be echoed in the next century. And in New York’s Oneida Community, a brilliant Vermonter named John Humphrey Noyes set about creating a new society in which the human spirit could finally be perfected in the image of God. Over time, these movements fell apart, and the national mood that had inspired them was drowned out by the dream of westward expansion and the waking nightmare of the Civil War. Their most galvanizing ideas, however, lived on, and their audacity has influenced countless political movements since. Their stories remain an inspiration for everyone who seeks to build a better world, for all who ask, What should the future look like? Praise for Paradise Now “Uncommonly smart and beautifully written . . . a triumph of scholarship and narration: five stand-alone community studies and a coherent, often spellbinding history of the United States during its tumultuous first half-century . . . Although never less than evenhanded, and sometimes deliciously wry, Jennings writes with obvious affection for his subjects. To read Paradise Now is to be dazzled, humbled and occasionally flabbergasted by the amount of energy and talent sacrificed at utopia’s altar.”—The New York Times Book Review “Writing an impartial, respectful account of these philanthropies and follies is no small task, but Mr. Jennings largely pulls it off with insight and aplomb. Indulgently sympathetic to the utopian impulse in general, he tells a good story. His explanations of the various reformist credos are patient, thought-provoking and . . . entertaining.”—The Wall Street Journal “As a tour guide, Jennings is thoughtful, engaging and witty in the right doses. . . . He makes the subject his own with fresh eyes and a crisp narrative, rich with detail. . . . In the end, Jennings writes, the communards’ disregard for the world as it exists sealed their fate. But in revisiting their stories, he makes a compelling case that our present-day ‘deficit of imagination’ could be similarly fated.”—San Francisco Chronicle From the Hardcover edition.


American Utopia

Author: Peter Swirski
Publisher: Routledge
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From Black Tuesday to the White House, from Plato to Robert Nozick, from Eugene Debs to Richard Nixon, from Peter Cornelis Plockhoy to the hippie communes of the Sixties, from universal basic income to utopian basic income, from proverbial wisdom to multilevel selection, from Big Data to paleomorality, from Prisoner’s Dilemma to social-engineering Israeli kindergartens, from time travel to gene engineering, from the pretzel logic of meritocracy to deaggressing humanity, American Utopia maps the pitfalls and windfalls of social reform in the name of the human use of human beings. Interrogating the assumptions behind four outré utopias by Thomas M. Disch, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, and Margaret Atwood, the book interrogates the assumptions that have historically been central to the utopian project. Whence the seeds of social discontent? Whence our taste for egoism and altruism? For waging war and waging peace? Can we bioengineer human nature to specifications? Should we? Who makes better guardians: humans or machines? And who will guard the guardians?


Race and Utopian Desire in American Literature and Society

Author: Patricia Ventura
Publisher: Springer Nature
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Bringing together a variety of scholarly voices, this book argues for the necessity of understanding the important role literature plays in crystallizing the ideologies of the oppressed, while exploring the necessarily racialized character of utopian thought in American culture and society. Utopia in everyday usage designates an idealized fantasy place, but within the interdisciplinary field of utopian studies, the term often describes the worldviews of non-dominant groups when they challenge the ruling order. In a time when white supremacy is reasserting itself in the US and around the world, there is a growing need to understand the vital relationship between race and utopia as a resource for resistance. Utopian literature opens up that relationship by envisioning and negotiating the prospect of a better future while acknowledging the brutal past. The collection fills a critical gap in both literary studies, which has largely ignored the issue of race and utopia, and utopian studies, which has said too little about race.


Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion 2nd Edition 2 volumes

Author: June Melby Benowitz
Publisher: ABC-CLIO
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This two-volume set examines women's contributions to religious and moral development in America, covering individual women, their faith-related organizations, and women's roles and experiences in the broader social and cultural contexts of their times. • Introduces readers to hundreds of women who became leaders within various religious faiths and denominations, including many who founded religious sects and organizations • Provides an understanding of women's developing roles in American religious culture, which continue to the present day • Enables readers to gain an understanding of the broad range of religions, approaches to religion, and attitudes toward religion in the United States • Documents how life's experiences can shape one's spiritual life and future development • Includes a timeline of the issues facing women that marks changing societal attitudes and individual women's accomplishments across history


American Trinity

Author: Larry Len Peterson
Publisher: Sweetgrass Books
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American Trinity is for everyone who loves the American West and wants to learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a sprawling story with a scholarly approach in method but accessible in manner. In this innovative examination, Dr. Larry Len Peterson explores the origins, development, and consequences of hatred and racism from the time modern humans left Africa 100,000 years ago to the forced placement of Indian children on off-reservation schools far from home in the late 1800s. Along the way, dozens of notable individuals and cultures are profiled. Many historical events turned on the lives of legendary Americans like the "Father of the West," Thomas Jefferson, and the "Son of the West," George Armstrong Custer - two strange companions who shared an unshakable sense of their own skills - as their interpretation of truths motivated them in the winning of the West. Dr. Peterson reveals how anti-Indian sentiments were always only obliquely about them. They were victims but not the cause. The Indian was a symbol, not a real person. The politics of hate and racism directed toward them was also experienced in prior centuries by Jews, enslaved Africans, and other Christians. Hatred and racism, when taken into the public domain, are singularly difficult to justify, which is why Europeans and Americans have always sought vindication from the highest sources of authority in their cultures. In the Middle Ages it was religion supplemented later by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. In nineteenth-century Europe and America, religion and philosophy were joined by science and medicine to support Manifest Destiny, scientific racism, and social Darwinism, all of which had profound consequences on Native Americans and the Spirit of the West. Presenting research in anthropology, archaeology, biology, history, law, medicine, religion, philosophy, and psychology, Dr. Peterson provides the latest observations that delineate why the Native American's life was destroyed. American Trinity is a stunning portrait, a view at once unique, panoramic, and intimate. It is a fascinating book that will make you think about the differences between belief and knowledge; about the self-skepticism of science and medicine; and about what aspects of the world we take on faith.


The Prime Minister of Paradise

Author: John Jeremiah Sullivan
Publisher: Random House
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As a student working in the dusty archives of the Sewanee Review, John Jeremiah Sullivan came across an article entitled ‘Lost Utopia of the American Frontier’ and was immediately hooked on the dramatic story of a lost book, an alternative history of the South, a white Indian. It was a story he’d chase for the next two decades. In 1735, a charismatic German lawyer and accused atheist named Christian Gottlieb Priber fled Germany under threat of arrest, bound for colonial South Carolina. In the Cherokee village of Grand Tellico, he created a Utopian society that he named Paradise. For six years, Paradise was governed by a set of revolutionary ideas that included racial equality, sexual freedom, and a lack of private property, ideas which he chronicled in a mysterious manuscript he called Paradise. Priber’s ideas were so subversive that he was hunted for half a decade and eventually captured by the British – making headlines across the world – and imprisoned until his death. The only copy of Paradise was apparently destroyed. Now, in a rare combination of ground-breaking research and stunning narrative skill, award-winning writer John Jeremiah Sullivan brings that lost history vividly to life.


Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities

Author: Steven Collins
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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This book presents an answer to the question: what is nirvana? Part I distinguishes between systematic and narrative thought in the Pali texts of Theravada Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, arguing that nirvana produces closure in both, and setting nirvana in the wider category of Buddhist Felicities. Part II explores other Buddhist utopias (both eu-topias, 'good places', and ou-topias, 'no-places'), and relates Buddhist utopianism to studies of European and American utopian writing. The book ends with a close reading of the Vessantara Jataka, which highlights the conflict between the ascetic quest for closure and ultimate felicity, and the ongoing demands of ordinary life and society. Steven Collins discusses these issues in relation to textuality, world history and ideology in premodern civilizations, aiming to contribute to an alternate vision of Buddhist history, which can hold both the inside and the outside of texts together.


Paradise Mislaid

Author: Anne Whitehead
Publisher: ISBS
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This is a compelling blend of travel writing, history and personal journey in search of the legendary band of Australians who in the 1890's set sail from Sydney to found a socialist utopia in the jungles of South America. Whitehead takes the reader into present day Paraguay to meet the remaining descendants but first she lays out the cataclysmic events which overtook their colony.


The Utopia of Film

Author: Christopher Pavsek
Publisher: Columbia University Press
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The German filmmaker Alexander Kluge has long promoted cinema's relationship with the goals of human emancipation. Jean-Luc Godard and Filipino director Kidlat Tahimik also believe in cinema's ability to bring about what Theodor W. Adorno once called a "redeemed world." Situating the films of Godard, Tahimik, and Kluge within debates over social revolution, utopian ideals, and the unrealized potential of utopian thought and action, Christopher Pavsek showcases the strengths, weaknesses, and undeniable impact of their utopian visions on film's political evolution. He discusses Godard's Alphaville (1965) against Germany Year 90 Nine-Zero (1991) and JLG/JLG: Self-portrait in December (1994), and he conducts the first scholarly reading of Film Socialisme (2010). He considers Tahimik's virtually unknown masterpiece, I Am Furious Yellow (1981–1991), along with Perfumed Nightmare (1977) and Turumba (1983); and he constructs a dialogue between Kluge's Brutality in Stone (1961) and Yesterday Girl (1965) and his later The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time (1985) and Fruits of Trust (2009).


In Meat We Trust

Author: Maureen Ogle
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Traces how wealthy and influential industry moguls and politicians shaped America into a culture of meat providers and consumers, from the rise of early meat-producing factories through contemporary mainstream brands, local suppliers, and organic counter-cuisines.