a public event
Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age
A CEES Book Discussion
Thursday, May 05, 2005
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
6275 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095
The Center for European and Eurasian Studies invites the public to a discussion of the forthcoming book, Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age, with author, Professor Russell Jacoby of the UCLA Department of History. The discussant for the talk will be Professor David N. Myers, also from the UCLA Department of History.
About the book (from Columbia University Press):
Utopianism suffers from an image problem: a recent exhibition on utopias in Paris and New York included photographs of Hitler´s Mein Kampf and a Nazi concentration camp. Meanwhile, many consider the violence wrought by brutal dictatorships and terrorists as outgrowths of utopian thought. However, as Russell Jacoby argues in this salient, polemical, and innovative work, not only has utopianism been unfairly characterized, a return to an iconoclastic utopian spirit is vital for society. Shaped by the works of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Gustav Landauer, and other predominantly Jewish thinkers, iconoclastic utopianism revives society's dormant imagination and offers hope for a better future.
Writing against the grain of history, Russell Jacoby reexamines the anti-utopian mindset and identifies how utopian thought came to be regarded with such suspicion -a suspicion that paradoxically goes back to the originator of the utopia genre, Thomas More. He challenges standard readings of such anti-utopian classics as 1984 and Brave New World and offers stinging critiques of the influential liberal theorists Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, and Karl Popper. Jacoby argues that these thinkers, who have had a profound influence on contemporary thought, mistakenly equate utopianism with totalitarianism.
The lecture is free and open to public.
For more information please contact
Sponsor(s): Center for European and Eurasian Studies