Skip to main content

SEMINAR : Utopia and Dystopia in the History of the City: A Journey in Search of the Good Life (Part I)

This is a course about cities, real cities, imaginary cities, ideal cities, bad cities, enchanting cities and boring ones. It is a course about how cities of the earth and cities of the mind interconnect. Stated differently, this is a course about the moral relationships occurring within built environments, and why that subject has enthralled so many thinkers, and in modern times, so many urban planners.

Ideal cities are called utopias, a neologism invented in the 16th century by Sir Thomas More.  Utopia means “Nowhere.”  Its wicked twin is a dystopia or catatopia, words of later coinage to describe fearful environments.  However, rather than being nowhere, dystopias actually exist – history is full of them -  and the modern city itself contains both utopian and dystopian elements.

The format for this course (and Part II in Spring 2020 ) is a mixture of formal lecture and seminar discussion based on recommended readings from a variety of sources, classical and modern. Not every auditor/participant will have the time or chance to do readings, although that remains a hope.  But all will undoubtedly gain from the discussions.

Note: This lecture/seminar will be limited to 50 students, selected by lottery on Thursday, Dec. 5. First meeting (January 6) is required, as is regular attendance. Do not apply unless you can make this commitment.

Sheldon Rothblatt

Professor Rothblatt was honored by the Swedish king as Knight Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, the kingdom’s highest award to foreigners. He is Professor of History Emeritus and former Director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. Educated at Berkeley and King’s College, Cambridge University, he holds an honorary degree from Gothenburg University, Sweden and has been a visiting professor at American universities such as Stanford and NYU and in countries such as Norway, Australia, Sweden and Austria. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Advancement of Science and a Visiting Fellow of New College, Nuffield, St. Cross and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford University. Upon retirement he received the Berkeley Citation, the highest award bestowed by the campus. He is currently a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Britain, a Fellow of the Society for Research in Higher Education, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the body that awards most Nobel Prizes, and a member of the National Academy of Education (U.S.). His specialties are modern British and European history. His writings have been translated into seven languages.



Enrollment Closed
Rothblatt, Sheldon
Meeting Time
Monday PM
Meeting Rooms
Maier room
75 left of 75 max
Lessons Of Course