The fate of utopian thought in modernity is paradoxical. On the one hand, the utopian horizon of the future opens up in an unprecedented way in the late eighteenth century. On the other hand, there is a widespread suspicion of concrete utopian representation. Even those who take utopian writing seriously, whose own projects are in some way utopian, like Fredric Jameson in his recent Archaeologies of the Future, prize abstract utopian form over determinate utopian content. Contemporary critical theory is characterized by a "utopianism without utopia" and this attitude, I argue, has its genesis in forms of representation and critique developed in the Romantic period. By examining four different utopian spaces explored in Wordsworth's "Female Vagrant," I show that the poem functions as an allegory of the fate of utopian representation in modernity, both exposing the tragic insufficiencies of abstract utopianism and offering its own exemplary experiment in concrete utopian representation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory