All posts tagged realism

In life, there seems to be an overall fear of the unknown, but also a fascination with it, where the emotion that dominates is the one supported by the most knowledge. This means that humans, as a race, are more comfortable with familiarity, and desire that all things which are unfamiliar to be defined by what is familiar, so they are able to understand. This fits well with the idea that perfection does not exist, but we are constantly striving for it. Most commonly, the attempts are manifested into utopian literature, fantasizing about what could be, defined by what has been.

This overarching idea that history constructs boundaries for social dreaming and utopian thought is the primary point of discussion of Constance Furey’s article “Utopian History”, that our dreams have limits. These limits constitute the past, as it is extremely difficult to imagine completely novel, new ideas; have you ever tried to invent something new, eventually realizing you are trying to create something that already exists or cannot think of anything at all? In a poem included in the article, this longing for remarkable, unheard-of change through imagination is portrayed well, as included below.

Generally, Furey discusses the implications of utopia as a means of historicism, characterized as the analysis of society or culture in the context of history; in addition, when combined with a hope for progress/advancement, utopian societies are able to assume a dynamic role, developing according to the time period and burdening issues. This is quite similar to how even non-utopian thoughts are heavily reliant on the world around them, and the issues plaguing the population. For example, at the time when the human race believed the end of the Earth to be the year 2000, Prince used his outlet of thought, music, to craft the song “1999”, commenting on living to the fullest while you still can.

If you look closely, any piece of utopian literature starts to mirror certain historical events and occurrences, as if these provide the backdrop to set the scene of an idea for manipulation and improvement of the current community. Essentially, these works are placing “existing pieces together into a non-existent form”, allowing for the utopian process to be one of learning and creativity (Furey 387). The recognition of this concept, then, is inherently significant for all research concerning utopian literature, since historical events/setting are the main influential aspects of these novels, putting pressure on characters, gender roles, government organization, propaganda, rule of law, etc. Any further analysis on the prominence of certain works, the growth in popularity of the genre as a whole, why certain aspects function as they do as well as their success in accomplishing intentions, or particular elements of specific “perfect societies” then depends on understanding the undeniable connection of historical events and utopian literature.

The author, due to her expertise and knowledge in the field, establishes credibility in this argument, explaining the dual mandate of utopian literature, its interdependence on realism and fantasy. Without realism, the claims are tied to no society and therefore have no impact; however, without fantasy, the claims are not really dreaming or striving towards anything. The organization of this article solidifies its perfective, as it progresses from broad ideas to a specific argument that utopia is history, just broadcasted into a different form to attempt critique and change from fresh angles. If you are to know anything about utopian thought and literature, it should be that, that social dreaming cannot exponentially grow, but is eventually bounded by what is accurate and probable according to the past, as shown by leveling out of the exponential function I have included below.

Works Cited

Furey, Constance. “Utopian History.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 20 Issue 4, 2008, pp. 385-398. EBSCO Host,

Undeniably, failure is unwanted, prompting emotions that include disappointment, defeat, and destruction; however, despite the magnitude of failures plaguing utopian implementations both inside and outside of literature, the genre continues to live on. Utopian creation not only exists in spite of these failures, but thrives off of them. naturally, this is an odd concept, where failure, particularly historical failures, encourages utopian thought, and actually makes it seem more plausible. In response to this, I aim to answer the overarching question of: Without history proving human failure in properly organizing society, would utopian literature be as realistic/probable?

Alongside analysis of many sources, the answer to this question becomes clear, resulting in my thesis: In the absence of history providing these human failures, utopian literature would not only be less rational, but it would not even exist; utopian literature utilizes history to project the past onto fictional societies, root commentary in the social conditions of the time, and supply the desire for enhanced life through failure. It can be seen, then, that failure is, in this case, beneficial. Some of the positive aspects of failure are explained by the article hyperlinked below.

For example, in response to any kind of revolution, movement, or protest, development of radical ideas embeds itself within utopian literature, constantly reinterpreting what constitutes the “perfect society”. Through this, historical failures essentially cage in utopian thought, adding a border to constraint them within the realm of probability, via the three reasons outlined in my thesis statement. Utopian literature relies heavily on prior events, allowing the dreamer to mold the building blocks of the past together in an unfamiliar way, uncovering a new concept by way of the old. These new concepts are then inherently established by the time period, and the issues and failures that accompany it; this process can be explained as adding fuel to the fire, letting the presence of failure cause desire for change and improvement. In response to the Soviet regime, utopian dreams and thought flourished, taking all the parts of society that had gone awry and redirecting them to plan for novel ideas, including that of air flight to escape ones current situation. Air flight became of particular interest at this time since it developed into an objective that seemed reasonable, even prompting a blueprint for attachable wings, named the “Flying Tatlin”, as pictured below.

The relationship of utopian literature to history, specifically in regard to its failures, is inevitable; the past knowledge and experiences allow the human race to progress, stimulating thought and ideas for how society should, and should not, change. Due to this, utopian literature is able to deliver a broader, more believable purpose, inciting both a call for action and a call for reflection through historical comparisons.

Works Cited

Furry, Constance. “Utopian History.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 20 Issue 4, 2008, pp. 385-398. EBSCO Host,

Vujosevic, Tijana. “The Flying Proletarian: Soviet Citizens at the Thresholds of Utopia.” Grey Room, Issue 59, 2015, pp. 78-101. EBSCO Host,

“Discovering the Positive Benefits of Failure.” Ladylux,¬†23 Mar. 2016, www.¬†