PANEL 3 - Friday 28 March
Geography in Renaissance Utopias III:
"Outside and Overseas"
Francis Carpinelli - Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas, USA
"Pollution Outside the Walls"
Abstract of Francis Carpinelli's paper
Most utopian communities are islands or walled-in cities which relegate polluting activities to outside their boundaries. The present essay explores this thesis in Thomas More's Utopia, specifically concerning imprisonment and execution of criminals, sequestering of the sick, especially lepers, and the butchering of animals. These key pollutants stood out for More in the London of his own day as he travelled to Oxford, past the condemned criminals at Newgate prison and the butchering of animals at Smithfield, and further along the Holborn-Oxford Road past the leper hospital of St. Giles and the notorious public execution area at Tyburn.
Gerrit de Vylder - Leuven University, Belgium
"Travelling to India: Complementary or Contradicting Utopias?"
Abstract of Gerrit de Vylder's paper
This contribution aims to identify how “Indian utopias” were used by European “Orientalists” from the 17th to the early 19th century. India and its traditions have been described as generally not producing ‘visions of ideal societies’, utopias being generally considered as a specific Western tradition resting in European classical thought and Judaeo-Christianity. 16th century European societies were fertile soil for the utopian enterprise because of the emergence of individual ownership and inheritance in land. As Marx explained, the ‘Asian Mode of Production’ was the first major stage of property and utopia is itself born from Indian sources. These Indian utopian traditions were used to criticize the European political and economic models since the 17th century: travellers, merchants, Jesuits and writers from Swift to Goethe often considered India as a utopia, not in the ‘paradise lost’-sense (like the West-Indies), but as an advanced socio-economic model.
Maarten Vermeir - Leuven University, Belgium
"More's Utopia and the Low Countries"
Abstract of Maarten Vermeir's paper
Which elements in Utopia
refer to the geography and ethnography of the Low Countries; which elements refer to the sociology, economy, culture, religion or politics in these Countries at the beginning of the Sixteenth Century? However the story of Utopia
is told by Raphael Hythlodaeus in the main port of Europe and of the Low Countries at that time, an exhaustive list of elements in Thomas More’s magnum opus referring to any aspect of the Low Countries is still missing. We intend to summarize a complete reading of Utopia and its prefatory poems and letters from this point of view. We sincerely believe that such exhaustive list can provide us a most interesting tool for further research on absurdities and approved elements through the eyes of Thomas More, Pieter Gillis and Erasmus, in the story of Utopia