History 12 Reading Guide

Utopian Communities—Intentional Communities

  • Robert Fogarty, "Foreword," and Charles Nordhoff, "Introduction," in Nordhoff, American Utopias, xiii-23. .pdf
  • Paul S. Boyer, "Foreword," and Donald E. Pitzer, "Preface" and "Introduction," in Pitzer, America's Communal Utopias, ix-13. .pdf

The forewords and introductions to these two texts give us an opportunity to get to know the scholars and informed contemporaries who will guide us this semester in our exploration of utopian communities, associationists, communal societies, and intentional societies.

  • According to Robert Fogarty, what makes Nordhoff's account unusual, both for his era and for our own?
    How does Fogarty characterize and explain the "paradox" of Nordhoff's perspective?
  • Nordhoff began his introduction by presenting the goal, the problem, and a solution to "the labor question" that society faced in 1875.  What assumptions about and causal relationships within the "political economy" of society shaped his view of both of that society and of the efforts of "communistic societies"?  Why did he use "strong language" (15) to present his views?
  • How did he set up his "examination" of the Communistic Societies?
  • How did he explain what he was looking for and what he found, from personal visit and careful examination?
  • How did he describe his method?  What measures did he use to evaluate the communistic societies?
  • According to Pitzer, what do the scholars contributing to this collection of essays bring to our understanding of the history and evolution of communal utopias, and of the visions and efforts of both founders and members?
  • How does the concept of developmental communalism help us understand what Nordhoff saw when he visited the "communistic societies"?
  • What are the three assumptions on which developmental communalism rests?