Due Jan 12 | Utopia – CFP – Mar 22-23 (Rutgers University)

U t o p i a
C A L L  F O R  P A P E R S

MARCH 22-23, 2024 | Rutgers University | New Brunswick, New Jersey

Keynote: Dr. Jodi Dean
Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges


“Etwas fehlt”
Bertolt Brecht

In an age marked by environmental catastrophes, global challenges like poverty, inequality, and humanitarian crises, where do we stand today with respect to utopian ideas? Is it too late to dream of another world that challenges current socio-political apparatuses? Utopia has been a controversial concept since the disasters of the twentieth century and is disavowed by numerous thinkers who align with Adorno in his belief that “as long as the world is as it is, all pictures of reconciliation, peace, and quiet resemble the picture of death”. By its etymological origins, “utopia” encapsulates a paradox for it means both “nowhere” and “a good place”

(eu-topos). Whether the thinker is Plato, Thomas More, William Morris, Karl Mannheim, B. R. Ambedkar, Ernst Bloch, or Monique Wittig, utopias have continued to fascinate us: as an inverted mirror of the deficiencies of an existing society and as a response to our need to create better images of the future.

Our ambivalence towards utopia and utopian thinking in our collective imagination raises several important questions about its consequence. Is utopian thinking an antiquated and hazardous form of ideological contemplation, or does it retain elements of emancipatory potential? Can utopian imagination still find a place and purpose in addressing our urgent needs? Can the visions of a more ideal world in utopian literature inspire readers to actively pursue societal and systemic transformations? And what role do literature, music, and the arts play in exploring utopian ideas and advocating for change?

We welcome papers related (but not limited) to the following topics:


Environmental utopias and the Anthropocene

Feminist and queer utopia

Multicultural utopias

Utopianism as form of critique

Utopia and ideology

Utopianism as a literary genre

Utopianism as a satire Socialist or anarchist utopias

Utopia and death

Theodicy and utopia

Mythology and utopia/dystopia

Post-war utopia

Post-human utopias

Fantasy worlds and science fiction

Hope and imagination

Theories of utopia Childhood and utopia

Nostalgia or looking backward as (“retropias”)

Visions of open societies

Role of AI

Messianism and messianic thinking

Anti-utopian and dystopian literatures

Utopian experiments: religious or secular communities

Visions of the city


The deadline to submit an abstract of 300 words and a bio of 100 words is January 12, 2024. Selected participants will be notified by January 26, 2024. Participants are expected to deliver a 20-minute talk in English or German which will then be followed by a 10 minute question and answer session. The conference will take place in-person on Rutgers University’s College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Although we cannot cover travel and accommodation costs, we will do our best to help with such arrangements. Your submission can be sent to gradstudents@greell.rutgers.edu, and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have.

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