The Utopian Dream – and its Disappointments

Presenter: The Revd Canon Dr Jane Shaw
Dean of Divinity, New College, Oxford

BBC Radio 3 – The Essay – January 2009

Producer: Ian Willox
Executive Producer: Alan Hall

Radio choices: The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Spectator

Human beings are dreamers and idealists.  They want the best, the most perfect, and, to that end, history has been punctuated with a series of utopian experiments that have, seemingly, ended in disappointment.  The Revd Canon Dr Jane Shaw explores the utopian dream – and its disappointments.

Programme 1:  The Moment of Hope
Drawing on her own experience, The Revd Canon Dr Jane Shaw explores the viability of utopian communities.

Programme 2:  The Dream of Harmony
The pursuit of harmony by political regimes and religious communities.

Programme 3:  Making Perfect Humans
The use of eugenics and genetics in the quest for perfection.

Programme 4:  Art as the Site of Hope
Artists’ attempts to create utopian communities.

Programme 5:  Realistic Utopias
Utopias that work.

The Revd Canon Dr Jane Shaw (Presenter) is Fellow, Chaplain and Dean of Divinity at New College, Oxford, where she teaches history and religion.  She is the author of Miracles in Enlightenment England (Yale University Press) and is currently writing a book about a millenarian, utopian community in England – into which no outsider has been allowed before – for Jonathan Cape and Knopf.


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