There's 'No Place' Like Home: Religious Utopian Societies in America
Ph.D. candidate in Religion, Duke University
January 22, 2012
A few pages from Thomas More's 1516 novel Utopia, which popularized the term.
- Banishing the Curio Cabinet
- What is Utopia? Heaven on Earth
- Theme: Authority
- Theme: Communalism and Equality
- Theme: Sexuality and the Body
- Theme: Ephemerality
- Conclusions and Questions
2. Religious Utopian Societies Mentioned (Out of Thousands!)
- The Ephrata Cloister (1732 – 1814)
- Moravians (15th century – present; utopian c. 1720 – 1740)
The Moravian ritual of pedalavium, or foot washing.
- The Shakers (1774 – ?)
A Shaker girl falling into a trance during a meeting.
- The Harmony Society / Harmonist movement (1803 – 1916)
- Bethel and Aurora (1844 – 1883)
- Bishop Hill (1846 – 1861)
Olaf Kraus' 1875 painting of Bishop Hill Colony workers.
- The Oneida Perfectionists (1848 – 1881)
- Mormons (1830s – present; utopian c. 1830 – 1900)
- The Woman’s Commonwealth (1867 – 1983)
3. Further Reading
Halloway, Mark. Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America, 1680-1880. London: Turnstile Press, 1951.
Hayden, Dolores. Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790 – 1975. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976.
Miller, Timothy. The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1998.
**Sutton, Robert. Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities, 1732-2000. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003.