Socialist Imaginations: Utopias, Myths, and the Masses, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Socialist Imaginations

Utopias, Myths, and the Masses, 1st Edition

Edited by Stefan Arvidsson, Jakub Beneš, Anja Kirsch


280 pages

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pub: 2018-10-18
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This volume offers new perspectives on the appeal and profound cultural meaning of socialism over the past two centuries. It brings together scholarship from various disciplines addressing diverse national contexts, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the USA. Taken together, the contributions highlight the aesthetic, narrative, and religious dimensions of socialism as it has developed through three broad phases in the modern era: early nineteenth-century beginnings, mass-based political organizations, and the attainment of state power in the twentieth century and beyond. Socialism did not attract millions of people primarily because of logical argument and empirical evidence, important though those were. Rather, it told the most compelling story about the past, present, and future. Refocusing attention on socialism's imaginative dimensions, this volume aims to revive scholarly interest in one of the modern world¹s most important political orientations.

Table of Contents

List of Figures.

List of Contributors.


Introduction: Socialist Imaginations, Stefan Arvidsson, Jakub Beneš, Anja Kirsch

Part I: The Nineteenth-Century Socialist Future

Chapter 1. Contested Christianities: Communism and Religion in July Monarchy France, Julian Strube

Chapter 2. Religious Dreams of a Socialist Future: The Case of Owenism, Edward Lucas

Chapter 3. Beyond the ‘Grand Designs’: Owenism, Architecture, and Utopia, David Leopold

Part II: Ideals for the Working-Class Movement

Chapter 4. "If that is Socialism, we won’t help its advent": The impact of Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel Looking Backward on socialist thought in late-nineteenth-century Western Europe, Philipp Reick

Chapter 5: Christian philanthropy, or political class struggle? Imaginations of Socialism and Christianity in Swedish prose-fiction of the early 1900s, Beata Agrell

Chapter 6. ‘The Omnipotence of Spring’: Ideas of Progress in Norwegian Socialism before 1940, Åsmund Borgen Gjerde

Part III: The Imagination of Socialism in Power

Chapter 7. Imaginations of Insecurity: Representations of the State Security Service in East German Television in the late 1960s and 1970s, Sebastian Haller

Chapter 8. Frugal deaths: socialist imaginations of death and funerals in modern China, Philipp Hetmanczyk

Chapter 9. Xi Jinping’s China: Keeping the Imagination Alive Under Socialism in Power, Roland Boer

Chapter 10. Afterword: Socialist Cultures and Sociabilities, Gregory Claeys


About the Editors

Stefan Arvidsson is professor in the history of religions at Linnæus University, Sweden. His main interest concerns modern mythology. English publications include Aryan idols: Indo-European mythology as ideology and science (2006) and The style and mythology of socialism: socialist idealism, 1871-1914 (2017).

Jakub Beneš is lecturer in modern European history at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the culture of workers’ and peasants’ movements in nineteenth- and twentieth-century east central Europe. He is the author of Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford, 2017).

Anja Kirsch is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Basel whose main interest concerns the relation between religion and ‘the secular’ in contemporary and historical perspective. She specializes in the relation of religion and the socialist worldview in the German Democratic Republic (Weltanschauung als Erzählkultur, 2016); her research interests include narrative strategies of secular and religious social-revolutionary movements and utopias and transnational migration in the long nineteenth-century European history of religions.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Modern History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Asia / China
HISTORY / Europe / Former Soviet Republics
HISTORY / Europe / France
HISTORY / Europe / Italy
HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Communism & Socialism