Literary utopias as explorations in human ecology : five modern works, 1880-2005.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The utopian genre is a perplexing one. Utopian literature is largely unappreciated outside of the field of utopian studies, yet utopian works continue to reemerge new and ever resonate. In fact, this persistent genre is quite complex, adaptable, and provocative. This study argues that literary utopias are important explorations in human ecology and exhibits this through the close examination of the disciplinary and dialectical components of which these works are comprised. This study conceptualizes utopian literature primarily by the function it performs, emphasizing what these works study and how they might be constructive modes of practicing human science. The basis of this research is the close examination of five English and American literary works, spanning from 1880-2005: Mary E. Bradley Lane's Mizora (1880), William Morris' News from Nowhere (1890), Burrhus Frederic Skinner's Walden Two (1948), Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia (1975), and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005). This project gives literary utopia new scholarly attention so that researchers might understand the full capacity of its pragmatic and creative contributions to human studies.