Summary/Application Essay Assignment

timer Asked: Oct 17th, 2018
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Question Description

For the first part of your essay, write a summary of the article or chapter. The article or chapter you read may be quite long, but your summary should be only one or two pages in length, explaining the central thesis of the work you chose. REMEMBER THE SUMMARY MUST BE IN YOUR OWN WORDS, UNLESS YOU ARE PRESENTING A DIRECT QUOTATION, which should then be exactly as written in the original work and enclosed in quotation marks. Whether you are quoting directly or explaining ideas in your own words, remember that you must attribute all ideas to their original authors.

In the second part of your paper, explain how the central ideas in the article or chapter apply to one of the assigned texts in the module.

Summary: "The Reality of Imaginary Communities"

Application: Utopia Reader Chapter (19th Century)


At the top of your assignment, put your name and the date.

Next, provide a complete bibliographical citation in MLA format for the article or chapter you are using.

The summary section should be 250-500 words long, and the application section should be 750-1000 words.

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Introduction The Reality of Imaginary Communities Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. It seems to me that we are living through a long revolution, which our best descriptions only in part interpret. It is a genuine revolution, transforming men and institutions; continually extended and deepened by the actions of millions, continually and variously opposed by explicit reaction and by the pressure of habitual forms and ideas. Yet it is a difficult revolution to define, and its uneven action is taking place over so long a period that it is almost impossible not to get lost in its exceptionally complicated process. Raymond Williams, The Long Revolution Taking up the critical project Raymond Williams announced in the early 1960s of reinterpreting and extending the ideas and values of the past “in terms of a still changing society and my own experience of it,” this book examines some important dimensions of the changing relationship between space and community during the “long revolution” of Western modernity.1 In addition to contributing to a reconsideration of modernity in terms of its “spatial histories,” this book also does a number of other things: most important, it looks at the origins and subsequent adventures of the singularly modern construct of the nation-state; it investigates some of the difficulties that arise for those in the twentieth century who attempt to imagine new spaces, communities, and histories; it reflects on the potentialities of different kinds of representational and narrative practices, questions made especially important for us today in the light of new electronic literacies and information technologies; and, finally, it explores some alternatives to contemporary methods of studying modern literature and culture. Drawing together these various agendas is the particularly rich and, as I will show in the following pages, uniquely modern literary genre of the narrative utopia. There has been a surge of interest in the question xv Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. xvi Introduction of utopia lately, signaled by a number of important new studies, the publication of a major new narrative utopia in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (1993–96), and the staging of an international exhibition in Paris and New York in the year 2000.2 I believe all this interest points toward a recognition of the deep relationship between utopia and the experience of a modernity now widely understood to be in the midst of a thoroughgoing transformation. While the story that unfolds in the following pages centers on the institutional and formal development of the genre of the utopia, this generic history is understood to be inseparable from a history of modernity in which the works comprising this important genre play such a significant role. Throughout this book then, I argue for the “reality” of the imaginary communities realized within these earlier texts. They are not real in that they portray actual places in the world; rather, they are real, in the sense suggested by Etienne Balibar in the epigraph to this book, in that they have material, pedagogical, and ultimately political effects, shaping the ways people understand and, as a consequence, act in their worlds.3 In short, narrative utopias serve as a way both of telling and of making modern history, and in this lies their continued importance for us today. As many readers will recognize, the title of this book also recalls that of Benedict Anderson’s influential study of the rise of the “imagined communities” of the modern nation-state.4 Anderson too describes such communities as “imagined” precisely because while most of their members will never encounter one other, each believes they all share some deep, transhistorical bond. Such a belief has had tremendous consequences for the history of the modern world, a fact made evident almost daily in newspaper headlines. Liah Greenfeld has called this imagined community the “constitutive element of modernity,” and much of the story I tell in the following pages focuses on the formation and the subsequent history of this construct.5 I argue that the narrative utopia plays a crucial role in the constitution of the nation-state as an original spatial, social, and cultural form. Beginning with the work that founds the genre, Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), there has been a continuous exchange of energies between the imaginary communities of the narrative utopia and the imagined communities of the nation-state, the former providing one of the first spaces for working out the particular shapes and boundaries of the latter. These imaginary communities are “nowhere,” as the etymological root of the term utopia bears out, precisely to the degree that they make somewhere possible, offering a mechanism by which people will invent anew the communities as well as the places Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. Introduction xvii they inhabit. The utopia’s imaginary community is thus not only a way of imagining subjectivity, but also a way of imagining space, thereby helping the nation-state to become both the agent and locus of much of modernity’s histories. If the particular social and cultural institution known as the nationstate has a history, then like any other history, it will be marked by intense moments of upheaval, contradiction, and change. The dawn of the twentieth century witnessed one such moment, in which, beginning in the early decades of this century, the narrative utopia became one of the places where a crisis in this conception of the subject and object of modernity was first registered, a crisis that has taken on a new significance and intensity in our own present. The second half of this book explores the ways some of the most influential narrative utopias of the twentieth century navigate this new social and cultural terrain, as modernity enters into a new phase, marked by a growing consciousness of the place of the nation-state in a global cultural and social space (although, as I argue, the spatial histories of modernity, from their very beginnings, always already take shape on a world stage). The questions these works address are crucial ones: If our social and cultural space is now global, what will be the nature of the communities, the subjects of history, that will operate within it? How do we imagine such a space? And how might we speak its history? A discussion of the formal evolution of the narrative utopia thus also offers a way of bringing into focus some of the monumental changes that occurred earlier in this century in both the practice and representation of space. In addition to offering new ways to read the histories of modernity, my study of narrative utopias also aims to alter our understanding of how we use diverse narrative forms to make sense of—indeed, to make — our world. Such a reconsideration becomes especially important as we attempt in the new millennium both to imagine innovative forms of political activity and to come to grips with the immense possibilities made available by emergent information technologies. At the heart of this book lies my contention that the narrative utopia is a specific kind of representational act, and also a particular way of conceptualizing the world. I use the term re-presentation here in the sense given by the German word, Darstellung, with its double implication of representation and presentation, encompassing both practices of reproduction and those of a much more active performance of the world. The specificity of the narrative utopia’s representational and cognitive practices is too often overlooked in many other discussions of the form that tend to see Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. xviii Introduction it either as a lesser kind of literature or a branch of social theory, and thus relegate it, on the one hand, to the specialized domains of the literary critic or, on the other, to those of the intellectual historian or political scientist.6 Neither characterization adequately grasps the nature of the work performed by the utopia. The representational practices of literature give expression to the unique and concrete lived experiences of collective or, in the case of most modern texts, individual ways of being in the world—that is, of particular phenomenological inhabitations of its spaces. The representational practices of theory, on the other hand— or what Louis Althusser calls “science”—attempt to perceive in a coherent and systematic fashion the abstract principles organizing the totalities in which these experiences take place. And never, apparently, do these two meet. However, the narrative utopia, along with the larger class of representational practices of which it is a part, occupies a middle ground between the phenomenological concreteness of the literary aesthetic and the abstract systematicity of the theoretical, working instead to develop a conception or, to use a term whose significance will emerge later in my discussion of the groundbreaking work of Louis Marin, a figuration of a space whose lived experience and theoretical perception only later become possible. Thus, in a very real way, first mapping the terrain that will be inhabited by literary art and theory, the narrative utopia serves as an in-between form that mediates and binds together these other representational acts. It is precisely this sense of the utopian text as engaging in a particular kind of praxis, a specific representational activity, that I mean to emphasize through my use throughout this book of the phrase narrative utopia. This too flies in the face of much of the received wisdom about these works. Utopias are too often read as static descriptions of a place, real or ideal, with “description” being implicitly understood to be the “other” to the temporal, or process, orientation of narrative. However, I argue that in forms like the narrative utopia, description itself serves as what in other contexts we think of as action or plot, so that social and cultural space and communal identity slowly emerge before our eyes by way of a process Roland Barthes calls “semiosis.” With this term, Barthes means to distinguish a whole class of texts—providing what might seem at first glance an improbable link between the writings of the Marquis de Sade, Charles Fourier, and Ignatius Loyola—that, unlike the mimetic imperative driving literature and theory, dislocate the problem of reference. Far more significant for these kinds of texts is what Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. Introduction xix Barthes describes as the “performance of discourse,” the very activity of making the world through language.7 Thus, the classical Enlightenment figure of the map, with its presupposition of a singular “God’s-eye view” upon a fixed and stable space, is an inappropriate one for the narrative utopia. Narrative utopias are more akin to traveler’s itineraries, or an architectural sketch, tracing an exploratory trajectory, a narrative line that, as it unfolds, quite literally engenders something new in the world.8 This implies a dramatic temporal reorientation as well; for if both literary and theoretical representations approach the narrative present in terms of the past, attempting to grasp it as some form of a completed whole, semiotic itineraries or performances like those of the narrative utopia conceive of the present in terms of the future, as something that is incomplete and continuously coming into being. That is, the present, its concerns, desires, and contradictions, rather than being the end of the representational practices of the narrative utopia (as in those of literature or theory), serves as the very raw material from which the narrative performance will generate something original. These productive performances are what made these works so electrifying for their contemporary audiences, confronting them with all the shock of the new. In this book, I want to recapture some of this energy and excitement and thereby help us, too, to begin again to think of the possibilities of the new. Both this “in-betweenness” and the orientation toward the future account for the cultural pedagogical force of utopian texts. The particular narrative utopias I discuss at length in this book—most centrally, More’s Utopia, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star, Jack London’s The Iron Heel, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four—were, along with numerous other representatives of the genre that I touch on more briefly (including, among others, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, William Morris’s News From Nowhere, Arthur Dudley Vinton’s Looking Further Backward, Ignatius Donnelly’s Caesar’s Column, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, H. G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World), deeply influential in their particular times and places, contributing to, and often directly shaping, debates over a wide range of social and cultural concerns. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of studying these works in their contexts is witnessing the passionate and engaged public discussions they often provoked. However, in addition to these immediate effects, many of which I elaborate in the coming chapters, the very narra- Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. xx Introduction tive practices made available by utopian texts helped transform how their readers understood and acted in the world in far more profound ways as well. By inserting something heretofore unknown in the world —an original conception, figure, or what one of More’s contemporaries called a “speaking picture”—the narrative utopia generates the cognitive space around which new kinds of lived experiences and theoretical perceptions form. Thus, understanding the past work of narrative utopias has real consequences for how we live and perceive modernity in the new millennium. Each of the chapters of this book is organized in such a way as to form a kind of “in-between” representation as well, being at once theoretical—mobilizing and exploring the points of contact between a wide range of different discourses—and historical, focusing on how various narrative utopias engage with the concerns of their time and place while participating in the ongoing, long revolution of modernity. Thus, this study in its very form calls into question some of the conventions of current intellectual work, and attempts to clear a space for a new kind of relational-spatial study of cultural texts. I explicitly address these issues in Chapter 1, where I begin by reconsidering what is still too often perceived as the discredited work of genre criticism. I argue first that problems arise when we assume that genre study involves only the creation of textual taxonomies. In order to circumvent these problems, I elaborate an alternative approach to genre that reads it as a fundamental aspect of the self-interpreting “being-in-the-world,” or Heideggerean Dasein, of any text. Such a self-reflexive awareness becomes evident both in the ways each text in the genre engages with its predecessors and in its particular remaking of the generic institution in response to its particular historical context. Thus, in a manner reminiscent of Heidegger’s phenomenological analysis, my approach to genre sets aside the impossible goal of describing definitively the set of necessary and sufficient conditions for membership in the genre—which would be nothing less than a quest after ontological essences—and instead explores how such a critical self-awareness defines the genre’s existence. Like all such institutional beings, genres exist in time, and thus genre provides a means of reviving a kind of historical thinking, stressing the relationship between cultural texts located in different times and places, unavailable in many contemporary critical reading strategies, including those of the New Historicism and a good deal of cultural studies. Through this discussion, I hope to contribute to the project of constructing a richer, multidimensional approach to any cultural text. Wegner, Phillip E.. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, University of California Press, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from empire-ebooks on 2018-10-14 16:36:58. Copyright © 2002. University of California Press. All rights reserved. Introduction xxi The next section of Chapter 1 examines in more detail the particular nature of the representational practices of the narrative utopia. Central to my discussion at this point is the work of the French social philosopher and theorist of space, Henri Lefebvre. Only recently becoming more widely known to an English-reading audience, Lefebvre’s innovative studies of the spatiality of contemporary life have been central to many of the most influential recent discussions of modernity and postmodernism. I show how Lefebvre’s crowning achievement, The Production of Space, and the dialectical tripartite model of space that it develops provide a powerful tool for rethinking the practices of the narrative utopia. However, as I emphasize throughout this book, the spatial mapping of modernity takes place alongside an equally important critical assault on already existing practices and spaces. I thus conclude this chapter by examining some of the theoretical work—including that of the most significant twentieth-century student of utopia, Ernst Bloch— that highlights this dimension of the form. What emerges is a dialectical understanding of the relationship between the temporal and spatial dimensions of the narrative utopia, a dialectic that, I maintain, is at the heart of the experience of modernity as well.9 Having established some of the theoretical stakes involved in this project, I begin Chapter 2 with an exploration of the “origins” of this generic institution. Although its roots extend much further back into older traditions of “utopian” thought and represent ...
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School: Rice University


Surname 1
Article Summary and Application Essay
Summary of Article
The article was about utopia with regards to spatial communities and the nation-state institution
in the experience of modernity. The author's main aim was to ensure that his readers were well
versed with the idea of the imagined communities being brought to life through the utopian
narrative. It thoroughly elaborated the different aspects of the ideological narrative, focusing
mainly on its effect on the social and cultural institutions and the various communities. The
possibility of his readers changing their views on the nation-state institutions and the utopian
narrative communities was high depending on what one understood while reading the article.
Therefore, the article's central idea of concern was the utopia with the different cities such as the
nation-state as its branch.
Meanwhile, it was possible that the experience of modernity was well related to the
utopian narrative which led people to believe that it would bring thorough and ongoing
transformation to their communities. The utopian description was believed to play a critical role
in the constitution of the nation-state as the original cultural, social and spatial form. Anderson,
one of the scholars mentioned in the articles portrayed the modern nation-state as having
imagined communities. He further explained that in such imagined communities, members never

Surname 2
come across one another, but they each believe that they share a strong, transformational and
deep bond. However, the different scholars in the article believe that at the beginning of the early
decades of the 20th century, the utopian narrative became one of the areas where a disaster that
was taken on a new significance and intensity of the current society led to a crisis in the
conception of the subject and object of modernity, thus, creating a spatial history of modernity.
Furthermore, the characterization of the utopia...

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