Hope and the Longing for Utopia: Futures and Illusions in Theology and Narrative

By Daniel Boscaljon (editor)

Interdisciplinary essays examining religious and secular visions of utopia, offering a way past ideological certainty to a mature hope for future betterment.

ISBN: 9780227175057


The battle over who defines our future is being waged most publicly by secular and religious fundamentalists. Hope and the Longing for Utopia offers an alternative position, disclosing a conceptual path toward potential worlds that resist a limited view of human potential and the gift of religion. In addition to outlining the value of embracing uncertainties, these twelve interdisciplinary essays explore why it has become crucial that we commit ourselves to hope for values that resist traditional ideological commitments. Contextualised by contemporary writing on utopia, and drawing from a wealth of times and cultures ranging from Calvin’s Geneva through early twentieth-century Japanese children’s stories and Hollywood cinema, these essays cumulatively disclose the fundamental importance of resisting tantalising certainties while considering the importance of the unknown and unknowable.

Beginning with a set of four essays outlining the importance of hope and utopia as diagnostic concepts, and following with four concrete examples, the collection ends with a set of essays that provide theological speculations on the need to embrace finitude and limitations in a world increasingly enframed by secularising impulses. Overall, this book discloses how hope and utopia illuminate ways to think past simplified wishes for the future.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 260

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Daniel Boscaljon is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Iowa. He has doctorates in Religious Studies, focussing on secularism and modern religious thought, and in English, focussing on nineteenth-century American literature. He is the author of Vigilant Faith.


Biographical Information for Contributors

Introduction: The Value of Cultivating Longing in a Secularized World
     Daniel Boscaljon

Part 1: Relating Hope and Utopia
1. Utopia and Narrative: Theology between the Boundaries of Overhumanization and Hypertheism
     Verna Ehret
2. Hope, Hatred, and the Ambiguities of Utopic Longing
     Diana Fritz Cates
3. What Means Utopia to Us? Reconsidering More’s Message
     Marybeth Baggett
4. Desiring Utopian Subjects: Collectivity and its Discontents
     Holly White

Part 2: Historical and Literary Utopian Visions
5. John Calvin, Geneva, and Godly Patriarchs: Hope and Reality in the Creation of a Christian Utopia
     Ezra L. Plank
6. Fruit, Fossils, Footprints: Cathecting Utopia in the Work of Miyazawa Kenji
     Melissa Anne-Marie Curley
7. Walter Kerr’s Utopia of re-Creation
     Benjamin K. Hunnicutt
8. Reframed Hope: Transcendent Technology and Spiraling Subjectivity in Dystopian Cinema
     Everett Hamner

Part 3: The Hope for Atheism as a Religious Utopia
9. Who We Are is God’s Dying: The Real Presence of God’s Absence in Bonhoeffer’s Prison Poems
     Steven Schroeder
10. Technotopia: The Convergence of Art and Technology in the Twentieth Century and Beyond
     J. Sage Elwell
11. The Coming Community: Agamben, Benjamin, and the Hope for a Materialist-Messianic Redemption of the Present
     W. David Hall
12. No-Places for Sacred Communities: Hope and the Failure of Fight Club
     Daniel Boscaljon


Endorsements and Reviews

This is a strong and timely volume that, in countering the dystopic tendencies of the last hundred years, offers significant hope in breaking down the old (and ongoing) divisions between the religious and the secular and between our status quo and our future longing.
Andrew W. Hass, University of Stirling

With so much reflection on the future wallowing in the sensationalistic ends of the spectrum from paralysis to rage, reading this collection of essays was an unexpected delight. They run the gamut from sober to joyful, but all of them serve the purpose of illuminating the coming future, and what is more, making me optimistic about participating in it, if these folk will be my companions on the way.
G. Michael Zbaraschuk, Pacific Lutheran University, Washington

This wide-ranging collection of essays – which deserves an equally wide readership – broadens so as to entertain utopian visions in history and literature.
Frank England, in Theological Book Review, Vol 27, No 2