September 22-24, 2016

Conference Registration


U T O P I A  F O R  5 0 0  Y E A R S

In the five hundred years since Thomas More published his Utopia, the work has had a profound influence on political and philosophical thought. But it has likewise held an important place in modern aesthetic and cultural developments—in literature, in art, in architecture and design—and has inspired political change, social experiments, and radical counter-cultural movements.

This conference seeks to address the varieties of utopia and utopianism that More’s work and those influenced by it have dared imagine. Does the utopian impulse mark a practical response to political, ecological or social crisis? Does utopia reflect a nostalgia for some lost golden age or optimism for a better—if perhaps impossible—future? Do utopian fictions allow us to explore previously unseen possibilities or confine us to the realm of mere imagination? What about dystopias? How are imagined dystopias informed by the tradition begun by More? Are they a straightforward antithesis of the utopian impulse, or could it be that dystopia is somehow a product of utopianism? Finally, what is the place of Utopia and utopias in historical change? Can we identify historical or modern social, economic or ecological experiments that display some utopian vision? In short, how has utopia been used as a tool to think with and how have people translated that thought into action.

We will feature presentations on a range of topics that address More’s Utopia, its context, reception and influence, but also those that more broadly address the idea of utopias and utopianism in other political, philosophical, literary, social and historical contexts. This conference will bring together a range of scholars working on Utopia and utopias from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Dr. Anne Prescott, Emerita Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of English at Barnard College, will deliver a keynote address.

St. Thomas More College is a Catholic liberal arts college that is federated with the University of Saskatchewan. The College’s Shannon Library holds one of six extant copies of the 1518 second edition of More’s Utopia.

Utopia for 500 Years

Friday, September 23, 2016

Location: Unless otherwise indicated all presentations are at the Graduate Student's Commons, Emmanuel St. Chad Building, 1337 College Drive.


8:00 - 8:45 Registration


8:00 - 8:45 Coffee / Tea / Snacks


9:00  - 10:30   Contextualization and Criticism I

  1. Thomas More's Legacy: the Martyr and the Statesman (Stelio Cro)
  2. Crisis, Utopia, and Education (Daniel Regnier)
  3. The Early Publication History of Utopia, 1516 - 1518: Louvain, Paris, and Basel (Romuald Lakowski)

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee / Tea / Snacks

11:00 - 12:30  Contextualization and Criticism II

  1. The Reform of Learning, Ethics, Aesthetics in the Utopias (Catherine Gimelli Martin)
  2. Utopia and the Elizabethan-Jacobean Dramatic Landscape (Régis Augustus Bars Closel)
  3. "Real versus Ideal": Utopia and the Early Modern Satirical Tradition (Bernd Renner)

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch Buffet Provided

1:30 - 3:00      Reception of Utopia I

  1. '[T]he fault of the man and not the poet': Sidney's Troubled Double Vision of Thomas More's Utopia (Daniel Lochman)
  2. "[N]ot a place one can live": Hilary Mantel's Reformed Utopia (Trevor Cook)
  3. Thomas More, Dave Eggers, and the Utopian / Dystopian Tradition
    (Peter Herman)

3:00 - 5:00 Museum of Antiquities Wine Hour and Utopia Display 


 5:00 - 7:00 Banquet  - University Club - Fireplace Room


7:30 Public Keynote Lecture - St Thomas More College Auditorium

Dr. Anne Lake Prescott, Emerita Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of English, Barnard College will speak on “The Impressive Utility of Thomas More's Nowhere: Some Minor Early Modern Utopias and Why They Are Interesting.”


Reception to Follow - St Thomas More Atrium


Saturday, September 24, 2016


8:30 - 9:00 Coffee / Tea / Snacks


9:00 - 10:30    Reception of Utopia II

  1. "The Capital of Utopia": Huxley's Antic Hay, Wren's Plan for London, and More's Amaurot (Alex MacDonald)
  2. Studying Utopia in Utopia: Soviet Scholars and the Legacy of Utopian Communism (Nina Chordas)
  3. Traces of Utopia in a Man for All Seasons (John Price)

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee / Tea / Snacks


11:00 - 12:00  Utopia as an analytical category

  1. Everywhere at home: Googling Utopia (JD Fleming)
  2. Suburbs as Rejected Utopian Space (Jessica McDonald)

12:00 - 1:20 Lunch Service Provided


1:30 - 2:30      Utopia and Magic: Arabic, Jewish, Medieval and Modern

  1. Civitas Adocentyn: A Hermetic Utopia from the Picatrix (David Porreca)
  2. Sexual Utopias: Magic, Ritual, Material. (Marla Segol)
  3. Magic Utopias from the Liber iuratus Honorii to Victor Neuberg’s Triumph of Pan (Frank Klaassen)


3:00 - 4:30 CBC Ideas - Utopia Panel - STM Auditorium

Panelists include:

Dr. Terrence Downey, President, St. Thomas More College

Dr. Hayden King, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University

Erica Violet Lee, Activist and Organizer with Idle No More

Dr. Anne Prescott, Emerita Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of English, Barnard College




Utopia for 500 Years Thanks our Sponsors:


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan

Classical, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Department of History, University of Saskatchewan

College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan

Department of English, University of Saskatchewan

Museum of Antiquities, University of Saskatchewan

Les and Irene Dubé Chair for Catholic Studies, St Thomas More College

CBC Radio Canada, Ideas.