In Search of the Utopian States of America
This book endeavours to understand the seemingly direct link between utopianism and the USA, discussing novels that have never been brought together in this combination before, even though they all revolve around intentional communities: Imlay’s The Emigrants (1793), Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance (1852), Howland’s Papas Own Girl (1874), Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio (1899), and Du Bois’s The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911). They relate nation and utopia not by describing perfect societies, but by writing about attempts to immediately live radically different lives. Signposting the respective communal history, the readings provide a literary perspective to communal studies, and add to a deeply necessary historicization for strictly literary approaches to US utopianism, and for studies that focus on Pilgrims/Puritans/Founding Fathers as utopian practitioners. This book therefore highlights how the authors evaluated the USA’s utopian potential and traces the nineteenth-century development of the utopian imagination from various perspectives.