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BOOK TALK: Looking backward 2000-1887
Kjøp billetter
23. oktober 2016 Kl. 15:30
Sted: Visningsrommet USF
Kategori: Samtale
Varighet: 60 min

Ideas about utopia are often documented through literature, in the shape of a novel that gives a detailed and specific description of an imaginary society, with emphasis on how everyday life has been changed for the better. The novel explains how the alleged society is organised, why and how social structures and mechanisms are working. Most known utopias attaches great importance to abolish inequality and injustice, and to cultivate cooperation and fellowship.

Utopia as a literary genre was established with Thomas More's Utopia in 1516. The term contains an ambiguity that still defines the genre. ‘Topos’ in Greek is translated ‘place’, the prefix ‘ou’ to ‘no’ or ‘not"’ while ‘eu’ means ‘good’ or ‘ideal’. A utopia may thus be both a non-existent place and a good place.

Among the most famous and influential utopias is Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward 2000-1887 (1888), a technocratic and socialist utopia. Ernest Callenbach gives a detailed description of a complete environmental and down-to-earth society and way of life in Ecotopia (1975) while Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time from 1976 is a key feminist utopia. (snl.no).

During Oktoberdans 2016, we wish to investigate these three examples, highlighted by Store Norske Leksikon (The Extended Norwegian Encyclopaedia, administrated by the 9 norwegian universities) as three worthy representatives of the genre.

We invite Ragnhild Freng Dale, PhD Candidate in anthropology at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge to present the book. To join the conversation we have invited literary scholar and politician Sofie Marhaug (Rødt/Red Party) and an artist from the Oktoberdans program (tbc)

 

“First published in 1888, Looking Backward was one of the most popular novels of its day. Translated into more than 20 languages, its utopian fantasy influenced such thinkers as John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Eugene V. Debs, and Norman Thomas. Writing from a 19th century perspective and poignantly critical of his own time, Bellamy advanced a remarkable vision of the future, including such daring predictions as the existence of radio, television, motion pictures, credit cards, and covered pedestrian malls.

On the surface, the novel is the story of time-traveler Julian West, a young Bostonian who is put into a hypnotic sleep in the late 19th century, and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia. In conversations with the doctor who awakened him, he discovers a brilliantly realized vision of an ideal future, one that seemed unthinkable in his own century. Crime, war, personal animosity, and want are nonexistent. Equality of the sexes is a fact of life. In short, a messianic state of brotherly love is in effect.

Entertaining, stimulating, and thought-provoking, Looking Backward, with its ingenious plot and appealing socialism, is a provocative study of human society as it is and as it might be.» (www.amazon.com)

 

The discursive program at Oktoberdans 2016 is curated and produced by BIT Teatergarasjen with the financial support of The Nordic Culture Fund, Bergen Kommune and House on Fire.