Keywords

Francis Bacon, New Atlantis, H.G.Wells, A Modern Utopia, Utopia

Subject Area

English/Communications

Start Date

1-3-2014 3:00 PM

End Date

1-3-2014 4:30 PM

Description/Abstract

Though within the literary genre, arriving at utopia often requires travel, from a perspective internal to the utopia described, the liberty to travel often takes a dubious status. As illustrated by Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, once established, the introduction of novel customs and ideas into the classical utopian society, via the traveler, can only threaten the stability and justice already achieved. It is on these grounds that severe restrictions on the travels of strangers and citizens about and beyond Bensalem find their justification. Utopias of the 19th and early 20th centuries may appear more palatable to our modern impulses to the extent that restrictions on travel have been lifted. Citizens of H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia, for instance enjoy the utmost freedom of movement. While Wells couches this liberty of travel in terms of acknowledging a natural liberty, I contend that, first because the modern Utopia is global, travel no longer threatens the stability of the State as it might for a geographically, hence culturally, isolated Utopia. Second, Wells’ global Utopia can allow its citizens license to travel as a luxury because the functions and understanding of travel has shifted from an activity pursued predominately for cognitive and cultural purposes to an activity with pursued predominately for leisure.

Bio

CHRIS ADAMO is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Centenary College, New Jersey and previously has served as the Chair of the English and Foreign Language Department. His most recent publication, “Beat U-topos or Taking Utopia On the Road: The Case of Jack Kerouac,” in Sharin Elkholy, ed. The Beats and Philosophy (University of Kentucky Press, 2013), addresses the concepts of utopianism and political liberalism in the work of Jack Kerouac.

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Mar 1st, 3:00 PM Mar 1st, 4:30 PM

Traveling in Utopias: Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and H.G. Wells' A Modern Utopia

Though within the literary genre, arriving at utopia often requires travel, from a perspective internal to the utopia described, the liberty to travel often takes a dubious status. As illustrated by Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, once established, the introduction of novel customs and ideas into the classical utopian society, via the traveler, can only threaten the stability and justice already achieved. It is on these grounds that severe restrictions on the travels of strangers and citizens about and beyond Bensalem find their justification. Utopias of the 19th and early 20th centuries may appear more palatable to our modern impulses to the extent that restrictions on travel have been lifted. Citizens of H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia, for instance enjoy the utmost freedom of movement. While Wells couches this liberty of travel in terms of acknowledging a natural liberty, I contend that, first because the modern Utopia is global, travel no longer threatens the stability of the State as it might for a geographically, hence culturally, isolated Utopia. Second, Wells’ global Utopia can allow its citizens license to travel as a luxury because the functions and understanding of travel has shifted from an activity pursued predominately for cognitive and cultural purposes to an activity with pursued predominately for leisure.