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Open Access Publications from the University of California

After the 'Post-Sixties': A Cultural History of Utopia in the United States

  • Author(s): Lane, Madeline
  • Advisor(s): Godzich, Wlad
  • et al.

After the ‘Post-Sixties’: A Cultural History of Utopia in the United States is an historical inquiry into the cultures of utopian thought and practice. Consisting of three multi-chapter sections, this cultural history unfolds as an account of utopian, anti-utopian, and dystopian imagination through different periodizations. Each section attempts to extend Fredric Jameson’s 1984 essay “Periodizing the 60s” to a history of the present period, developing a historical framework for understanding the politics of utopia. The last section of this dissertation deals with utopia and dystopia as cultural tendencies in the historical imagination of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the global explosion of social movements and uprisings that extended from the Movement of Squares in the North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the Mediterranean, to the Occupy Wall Street encampments in the United States. The first section builds toward this account of the contemporary period, through a series of analyses of literature, film, subcultures, music, architectures, and historical phenomena that engage with communalist, feminist, punk, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist articulations of ‘utopia.’ The second section examines the recuperation of countercultural utopianism in post-1960s history of tech corporations and creative industries in the United States. In constructing a periodization of the end of the post-sixties, this cultural history considers various shifts and mutations in the political imaginary of neoliberalism, and takes up utopia as an epistemological problematic of contemporary global capitalism. The project concludes tentatively and with futurity, insisting on the correspondence between utopian imagination, historical experience, and revolutionary possibility.

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