Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Sarah Alexander

Abstract

This project examines two works of nineteenth-century utopian fiction, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and William Morris's News from Nowhere, and considers the way in which the organization of work in these imagined post-capitalist futures is guided by their respective philosophies of labor: while Bellamy's utopia is structured by an understanding of labor as primarily a social duty, Morris presents labor as central to the full development and happiness of the individual. These two utopias are read as representative of a fundamental tension within the writings of Marx: while Morris's understanding of labor aligns with the early works of Marx, Bellamy's vision is an expression of later attempts by Marx to distinguish between productive activity performed in the "realm of necessity" and that performed in the "realm of freedom." This project identifies in Bellamy's utopia a continued presence of alienated labor and reads this limitation as the inevitable outcome of an attempt to realize Marx's distinction between necessary and free production; Morris's ability to eradicate alienated labor in his utopia is thus only possible because he abandons this distinction and recognizes, as did the early Marx, the centrality of all forms of production to the individual's realization of her creative human essence. However, while Morris overcomes alienation, his attempt to break with the material foundations of capitalism leaves his utopia unsustainable; this project therefore looks to Bellamy's economic structures in an attempt to imagine how Morris's labor philosophy might be infused with Bellamy's structural elements to create a socialist future which would grow from the material conditions of capitalism while fully separating itself from the alienation of capitalist labor relations.

Language

en

Number of Pages

89 p.