Storming Utopia | University of Oxford

Storming Utopia

Speakers
Wes Williams, Richard Scholar, James Attlee, Sara-Louise Cooper, Euton Daley, Erin Maglaque, Angharad Arnott Philips
Event date
Event time
12:30 - 14:00
Venue
St Luke's Chapel
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
OXFORD
Oxfordshire
OX2 6GG
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Free
Disabled access?
Yes
Booking required
Required

Professor Wes Williams (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) and Richard Scholar (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) are hosting an event for their Storming Utopia Knowledge Exchange project.

Thomas More’s ground-breaking island fantasy, first published in 1516, asks us all what brave new world we are to wish for. What would a society better than ours look like? Who ought to be allowed in? And on what terms? These are More’s questions in Utopia, and they have never mattered more than today, as the UK prepares to pursue a political future outside the EU and walls go up in the US. It may seem timely to return to the traditional reading of More’s text as a blueprint for political change: Utopia tells, after all, how a peninsula cut itself off from the continent to make a better future as an island… Yet the name More created for his island – Utopia – means ‘no place’: the political message of More’s text is undermined by the surrounding irony that his brave new world is a Nowhere Island.

A group of East Oxford residents have come together to develop a creative contemporary response to More’s text and Shakespeare’s Tempest in the form of a new theatrical show, Storming Utopia, which they are performing at the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford and at the Fondazione Cini in Venice in 2017. This lunchtime discussion event builds on their perspectives and on the work of two Oxford researchers – Professor Richard Scholar and Professor Wes Williams – to explore what Utopia has meant since 1516, from Venice to Venezuela and beyond, and what it might mean here in Oxford in the age of Brexit. Participants will include: researchers working on the history of Utopian literature and thought from the Renaissance to the present day; writers, directors and facilitators working in the Oxford arts scene; members of the Storming Utopia project.

Confirmed speakers: James Attlee (author of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey); Sara-Louise Cooper (Caribbean studies, Oxford); Euton Daley MBE (long term artistic director of Pegasus Theatre, now freelance performance poet and arts consultant) ; Erin Maglaque (History, Oxford); Angharad Arnott Philips (former Youth Arts Leader at Pegasus, now freelance theatre director ) Richard Scholar (French and comparative literature, Oxford); Wes Williams (French literature, Oxford).