HDS 2368

Other Possible Worlds: Utopia, Eschaton, and Other Science Fictions

Steven Jungkeit


Financial austerity and urban decay, rising social inequality and ecological devastation - these are realities that confront religious and political leaders around the world. Apologists for the prevailing economic and social regime have argued that "there is no alternative." Yet religion and philosophy have always nourished dreams of alternative social relations. Those dreams are captured in religious language as eschatology, and in philosophical language as utopia. Lately, those themes have surfaced most prominently in science fiction novels. This course will spend time reading theoretical accounts of utopia and the eschaton (Plato, the Revelation of St. John, Thomas More, Marx and Engels, Ernst Bloch), as well as more recent theoretical explorations of utopia in queer theory (Samuel Delaney, Jose Esteban Munoz) and science fiction (Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Philip K. Dick). But we'll also consider several famous 19th and 20th century utopian experiments, among them those of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen, as well as movements less frequently characterized as utopian, such as the Surrealists, and the Situationists. Throughout, we shall be asking how even ostensibly secular utopian visions remain rooted in a religious imagination, complicating neat divisions between the sacred and the secular. Furthermore, we shall be asking how these ethical visions might inform contemporary social movements and ordinary religious communities, both of which require the ferment of utopian dreams to contest the dominant economic and social models of the present.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: Yes


0.50 credits
Spring 2014
Mon 2pm-4pm
Andover Hall Room 103

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Religion, Ethics, and Politics
  • Religion, Literature, and Culture
  • Theology
  • Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Christianity
  • Judaism
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry
  • Public Leadership, Community Organizing, and Planning
Language Course Designation(s) None