Women's Utopias in British and American Fiction
Utopian writing offers a fascinating panorama of social visions; and the related forms of dystopia and anti-utopian satire extend this into the range of social nightmares. Originally published in 1988, this comparative study of utopian fiction by British and American women writers demonstrates the continuity of a well-established, but little-known, tradition, emphasising its range and diversity, and providing ample evidence of women’s aspirations and documenting the restrictions and exclusions in private and public life that their novels challenge. Historically, the growth of each national tradition is traced in relation to social and political movements, particularly the suffrage movement and contemporary feminism. Comparatively, the quite different responses of British and American women to what are in many instances the same social problems are examine in the light of changing expectations. Definitions of human nature and gender relationships are assessed on a nature/culture continuum as a means of understanding this change. Women’s attitudes to their social and political roles, their working lives, to sexuality, marriage and the family are reflected in their visions of fruitful change; and so also is the impact of two world wars, socialism and fascism, the debate on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and fears of a nuclear holocaust.