A New World?: Past Utopian Movements and Humanists' Directions for the Future

deadline for submissions: 
March 14, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Moira Marquis/ UNC Chapel Hill
contact email: 

This panel will take place at the 2019 MLA/AHA conference in Chicago on January 3-6, 2019. These conferences will take place only blocks apart. Since this is a joint conference, panelists may be either AHA or MLA members.


As humanists increasingly assert the need for new ways of conceiving of humanity’s place in the world, and literature struggles to represent such a place as possible, it would serve us well to consider the ways people have tried to imagine alternative futures in the past. Many of the contemporary proposals for social transformation have long and complex histories, from Jane Bennett’s new vitalism, to decolonialism’s and afrofuturism’s embrace of mythology, to liberalism’s call for technofixes. Historians and literary scholars can illuminate the ways these movements have been understood, and failed, in the past and therefor help to reconceptualize these ideas. Historians of social movements can offer analysis of particular movements or of certain groups of actors in these movements. LIterary analysis can help us understand the appeal of these movements and why they continue to resurface. Abstracts are invited on any broadly defined utopian social and/or environmental movement, and any literary work dealing with, including but not limited to:





Fourier’s Utopian Socialism

Black Panther Party

The Islamic Revolution

Deep Ecology





 Abstracts should be 250 words and sent to mbradfor@live.unc.edu or djmarquis@email.wm.edu. Submissions due by March 14, 2018.