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PETER LANG – International Academic Publishers are pleased to announce a new book by
Matthew Beaumont 
THE SPECTRE OF UTOPIA: Utopian and Science Fictions at the “Fin de Siècle”

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2012. XII, 307 pp.
Ralahine Utopian Studies. Vol. 12
Edited by Raffaella Baccolini, Joachim Fischer, Tom Moylan and Michael J. Griffin

pb. ISBN 978-3-0343-0725-3
CHF 63.00 / €(D) 47.50 / €(A) 48.80 / € 44.40 / £ 40.00 / US-$ 66.95
€(D) includes VAT – only valid for Germany  /  €(A) includes VAT – only valid for Austria  

In the late nineteenth century, a spectre haunted Europe and the United States: the spectre of utopia. This book re-examines the rise of utopian thought at the “fin de siècle”, situating it in the social and political contradictions of the time and exploring the ways in which it articulated a deepening sense that the capitalist system might not be insuperable after all. The study pays particular attention to Edward Bellamy’s seminal utopian fiction, “Looking Backward” (1888), embedding it in a number of unfamiliar contexts, and reading its richest passages against the grain, but it also offers detailed discussions of William Morris, H.G. Wells and Oscar Wilde. Both historical and theoretical in its approach, this book constitutes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the utopian imaginary, and an original analysis of the counter-culture in which it thrived at the fin de siècle.

Utopian fiction – Science fiction – Disaster fiction – Radical publishing – Feminism – Socialism – Occultism.

“Matthew Beaumont is one of the most brilliant of the younger generation of English critics. His work on late Victorian culture puts him among the most suggestive and original scholars of the period. While focused on Bellamy, this wide-ranging study encompasses a rich variety of authors and intellectual currents, all dealing with the elusive but utterly essential idea of utopia. In its theoretical sophistication and historical depth, Beaumont’s work is both innovative and illuminating” (Terry Eagleton, Distinguished Professor of English at Lancaster University and author of ‘Trouble with Strangers’ and ‘Why Marx Was Right’)

“So much has been written about Looking Backward and late nineteenth-century utopian literature that one wonders if these topics can ever come to us fresh again. Beaumont answers this question by placing Bellamy’s utopia within significant yet rarely studied publication and reception contexts, such as the London Bellamy Library books series designed to educate working-class readers, and by presenting utopia as a constructively troubling spectre, a ghost evaluating the readers’ present by haunting them with a sense of the absence of a suppressed better world existing somewhere between possibility and impossibility. Thus Beaumont does refresh utopia for us” (Kenneth Roemer, Piper Professor, University of Texas at Arlington and author of ‘The Obsolete Necessity: America in Utopian Writings, 1888-1900’ and ‘Utopian Audiences’)

“This is a rich and provocative book in which Beaumont challenges conventional readings of utopian writing at the turn of the twentieth century. Written with insight and clarity, it provides fresh perspectives and unsettles old certainties. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with the cultural context of the time” (Ruth Levitas, Professor of Sociology, University of Bristol and author of ‘The Concept of Utopia’)

Matthew Beaumont is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at University College London.

You can order this book online. Please click on the link below:
Direct order:
Or you may send your order to:

International Academic Publishers
Moosstrasse 1
P.O. Box 350
CH-2542 Pieterlen
Tel +41 (0)32 376 17 17
Fax +41 (0)32 376 17 27


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Critical Hope


The Fourth Australian Conference on Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction


30th August – 1st September 2010
Monash University Conference Centre
30 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

A conference organised by the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Monash University


In December 2001 the University of Tasmania hosted a successful conference around the theme of Antipodean Utopias. In December 2005, Monash University hosted a second conference, around that of Imagining the Future, to mark the long-awaited publication of Fredric Jameson’s book Archaeologies of the Future. A third conference, Demanding the Impossible, followed in December 2007, again at Monash. Despite the apparent optimism of all three conference themes, dystopia remained a recurrent preoccupation in their discussions. This fourth conference will directly address the questions of dystopia and catastrophe with special reference to a problem that increasingly haunts our imaginings of the future, that of actual or possible environmental catastrophe. As Jameson himself wrote in The Seeds of Time: ‘It seems … easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of
nature than the breakdown of late capitalism; perhaps that is due to some weakness in our imaginations’.Hopefully, this conference will play some small part in changing that particular climate of opinion.

The conference invites papers from scholars, writers and others interested in the interplay between ecology and ecocriticism, utopia, dystopia and science fiction.


The opening address will be given by Kate Rigby, Founding President of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Australia-New Zealand, and author of Topographies of the Sacred: The Poetics of Place in European Romanticism (2004).


John Clute
Science fiction writer, Director of the Department of Story Future in the Centre for the Future at Slavonice and co-author of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993) and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997).

Tom Moylan
Emeritus Professor and Founding Director of the Ralahine Center for Utopian Studies, University of Limerick, author of Demand the Impossible (1986) and Scraps of the Untainted Sky (2000) and co-editor of Dark Horizons (2003).

Kim Stanley Robinson
Distinguished science fiction writer, winner of two Hugo Awards and author of the Orange Country Trilogy, the Mars Trilogy, Antarctica, The Years of Rice and Salt and the Science in the Capital Trilogy.

Deborah Bird Rose
Professor of Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, author of Dingo Makes Us Human (2000), Reports from a Wild Country (2004) and Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction (in press).

Linda Williams
Associate Professor in Art History at RMIT University, curator of The Idea of the Animal exhibition (2004) and the HEAT: Art and Climate Change exhibition (2008).

The conference invites papers from scholars, writers and others interested in the interplay between ecology and ecocriticism, utopia, dystopia and science fiction.


Abstracts (approx. 100-150 words) should be sent by 30 June 2010 by e-mail to:

or by post to: Utopias4 Conference, Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, School of English, Communications and Performasnce Studies, Clayton campus, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia


The conference will take place over three days.

Full registration for the three days costs $A280, with a concessional price for students and the non-employed of $A140.

Registration for one day only costs $A110, with a concessional price of $A55. All prices are GST inclusive.

Registration is due by 31 July 2010.

Professor Andrew Milner
Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
School of English, Communications and Performance Studies
Monash University
Victoria 3800

Phone: (61) (3) 9905 2979
Fax: (61) (3) 9905 5593

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