UCL Urban Laboratory


Imagining the Perfect World: Utopia in Cities and Fiction

12 January 2017, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm

Utopia by Thomas More 2016 publication cover - Verso

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Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Five hundred years since its first publication, Thomas More's Utopia remains astonishingly radical and provocative.

Hovering between fantasy, satire, blueprint and game, Thomas More imagines an island nation where thousands live in peace and harmony, men and women are both educated, and property is communal. But there has always been a shadow at the heart of Utopia. In an increasingly unsettled world, can the contradictions of Utopia help us chart a different path?

To celebrate the quincentenary edition, published by Verso and Somerset House, Matthew Beaumont and Gillian Darley explore how Utopia continues to inspire, and how utopia informs our visions of urban space and fictive possibilities.

Matthew Beaumont is Professor of English Literature at UCL and Co-Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory. He is author of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London and two books about utopian literature.

Gillian Darley is a writer, broadcaster, historian and architectural campaigner. Her seminal book Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias is published by Five Leaves Publications.

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