FYS 101 Utopia and the American Dream

In this seminar, we will explore how the literary genre of utopia relates to the American Dream. The word utopia, coined by Sir Thomas More in the 16th century, is derived from two Greek words: eutopia (“good place”) and outopia (“no place”). These definitions raise a central question for our course—how can perfection be achieved by imperfect people in an imperfect world? After reading More’s Utopia, we will survey a number of utopian works by American authors or in American settings, tracing the shift from utopia to dystopia. We will approach each fictional work in its historical context and consider the real-world effects of utopian literature, which often inspired activism and utopian communities.