Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies : On Refusing to be Realistic book cover
1st Edition

Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies
On Refusing to be Realistic

ISBN 9781138706873
Published February 6, 2019 by Routledge
142 Pages

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Book Description

In Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies, John Storey looks at the concept of utopianism from a cultural studies perspective and argues that radical utopianism can awaken the political promise of cultural studies.

Between the Preface and the Postscript, there are seven chapters that explore different aspects of radical utopianism. The book begins with a definition of what radical utopianism means, with its productive combination of defamiliarization and desire. From there, it considers Thomas More’s invention of the concept of utopia with its double articulation of what is and what could be, Herbert Marcuse’s utopian rereading of Sigmund Freud’s concept of repression, Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers, the Paris Commune, and the Haight-Ashbury counterculture. In the final chapter, Storey examines two versions of utopian capitalism: retro and post. Although the main focus here is on Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign and Paul Mason’s recent bestseller Postcapitalism, the chaper begins with a brief discussion of Karl Marx on capitalism. Each chapter, in a different way, argues that radical utopianism defamiliarizes the manufactured naturalness of the here and now, making it conceivable to believe that another world is possible.

This book provides an ideal introduction to utopianism for students of cultural studies as well as students within a number of related disciplines such as sociology, literature, history, politics, and media studies.

Table of Contents

Preface Cultural Studies and Utopian Desire

Chapter 1 Radical Utopianism: Defamiliarization and Desire

Chapter 2 The Happy Place That Exists Nowhere

Chapter 3 Herbert Marcuse and the Great Refusal

Chapter 4 Gerard Winstanley and the Law of Righteousness

Chapter 5 The Paris Commune: Storming Heaven

Chapter 6 The Chimes of Freedom Flashing: The Haight-Ashbury Counterculture

Chapter 7 Utopian Capitalism: Retro and Post

Postscript Making Hope and History Rhyme

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John Storey is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, UK. He has published extensively in cultural studies, including 13 books.


In Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies, John Storey has delivered a breath of fresh revolutionary air into the miasma of respectable co-optation that has engulfed this once radical project. When Stuart Hall and others developed the framework and methodology of cultural studies, they were creating new interdisciplinary ways to study and intervene in the "terrible interconnection between culture and society" (Hall). Unfortunately, the regression imposed on the scholarly sphere by the neoliberal rise to power from the 1980s onward has managed to temper and tame this project. Too often reduced to little more than an academic field, the radical intellectual work of cultural studies has collapsed within a precarious university atmosphere that encourages collaboration and careerism. In this book, Storey brings the critical apparatus of utopian theory and method (especially as developed in the tradition of Marx, Ernst Bloch, Fredric Jameson, Ruth Levitas, and others) to revive and regenerate the transgressive and transformative of which this project is capable. I urge all cultural studies scholars and teachers to buy this book. I urge all who are interested in not only understanding the world but in changing it to buy this book.

Tom Moylan, University of Limerick