Time, Freedom, and Utopia: The Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed
A proposed edited collection of essays to explore the contemporary political significance of Ursula K. Le Guin's powerful utopian novel The Dispossessed.
Published in 1974, The Dispossessed immediately received widespread critical acclaim (including both the Hugo and Nebula awards) and generated much scholarly commentary, particularly in the fields of utopian and science fiction studies. More recently, the social and political theorist André Gorz commented that The Dispossessed is "the most striking description I know of the seductions -- and snares -- of self-managed communist or, in other words, anarchist society." To date, however, the radical political ramifications of the novel remain woefully under-explored.
We invite submissions that help to right this state of affairs. We particularly welcome papers that address questions such as the following. Is Gorz's characterization of the novel an accurate one? To what extent may The Dispossessed be read as an anarchist, ecological, post-industrial, or radical utopia? Which political themes emerge most strongly from the story? Does the book have anything distinctive to say about the nature and role of politics in general? Does it have anything distinctive to say about the relationship between art, politics, and society? To what extent does Le Guin's "ambiguous utopia" represent a challenge to traditional models of utopian thought? Is it fair to describe The Dispossessed as a "dynamic" or "pluralistic" utopia? In what ways does the work challenge the reader's sense of conventional temporal relationships? What connections does it make between conceptions of time and ideas of human freedom? What roles do moral, social, and political conflict play in the story?
If you are interested in contributing to the planned volume, please submit an essay title and c. 300-word proposal to either of the editors, by 18th September 2003. Note that contributors to the proposed collection may also have the opportunity -- subject to the final approval of the USSE conference programme chair -- of presenting their work at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Utopian Studies Society Europe, to be held in the summer of 2004 at the University of Oporto in Portugal.
Peter Stillman is Professor of Political Science at Vassar College, where he has taught since 1970. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on utopian political thought, Hegel's political philosophy, ecological issues, and Marx's theories, and has co-edited a new translation of Rousseau's Confessions.
Laurence Davis was educated at Columbia and Oxford Universities, and has taught political and social theory at Ruskin College, University Colleges Dublin and Galway, and Oxford University. He is currently working in Dublin on a book on utopian political thought.
Dr. Laurence Davis
29 Parnell Court
Telephone: +353 1 473 2083
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