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Becoming Utopian Roundtable

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Venue: Online

Chaired by Dr Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck), with Prof. Tom Moylan (University of Limerick) as respondent, this panel will offer a roundtable discussion of Tom Moylan's new essay collection, Becoming Utopian: The Culture and Politics of Radical Transformation (Bloomsbury, November 2020). The interdisciplinary/international panel includes Prof. Raffaella Baccolini (Università di Bologna), Heather McKnight (University of Sussex) and Dr Tim Waterman (The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London).

Becoming Utopian explores the dynamic relationship between the transformative utopian impulse and radical political action. It elucidates the utopian process through studies of sociopolitical theory and practice (utopian theory, ecological activism, nonviolence, radical pedagogy, community organizing), doing so with the help of critical theory, secular/post-secular hermeneutics, and the science fictional imaginary. While each chapter grows from the time it was written, each adds a facet to this contemporary prismatic exploration of utopian transgression and transformation.

Developing his framework through a dialectical interaction with the problematics of Fredric Jameson and Ruth Levitas, Moylan focuses on the initial (utopian) political consciousness that develops out of a “break” (Badiou) with the hegemonic order and moves through a “gestalt shift” (Goodman and Perls) toward a horizon of a better world for humanity and nature. He traces the ways by which this utopian process produces new structures of feeling and formations (Williams) that can enable humanity to grow from alienation to action. Becoming Utopian offers a timely holistic reflection on how humans can confront and transform the conditions produced by the global environmental, economic, political, and cultural crises that beset us in this time of trouble.

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