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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Utopia in Dark Times

7th June 2017, 13:00 to 14:00, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Caroline Edwards (Birbeck, University of London)

Discover how writing about utopia can tell us about politics today, in this talk to complement the exhibition, Time Machines.

The German philosopher Ernst Bloch is the most significant utopian thinker to date. His immense oeuvre, of which the three-volume The Principle of Hope (1938-47) is illustrative, sketches out the persistence of the utopian impulse even in the darkest times. Writing in the early 1930s as Hitler’s National Socialism was taking hold of the German national consciousness, Bloch insisted on the importance of utopian thinking and developed a model of multi-stranded temporality that opened up utopian insights into the present – insights that act like time machines, landing in the unfathomable present from both the past and future.

Our own dark times of post-truth politics as embodied by figures like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are replete with frightening echoes of populist movements in the 1930s; and Bloch’s thinking remains crucial to helping us confront the increasingly dystopian 2010s with a utopian counterweight. This talk will look at Bloch’s writings to offer some thoughts on defending the utopian imagination in today’s political climate. From the microcosmic phenomenology of individual experience to the macrocosmic scale of historical movements, the experience of lived time remains central to the question of utopian possibility – as Bloch’s writings show us."

This talk will be free of charge. Booking is not required for lunch time talks but seating will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Enquiries regarding talks should be made to Palace Green Library on 0191 334 2976.

Contact pg.library@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.


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