History 233 Reading Guide

The Perfectionist Impulse In Antebellum Reform:   Utopian Alternatives

  • Carl J. Guarneri, "Reconstructing the Antebellum Communitarian Movement:  Oneida and Fourierism," Journal of the Early Republic 16 (1996), 463-488.  (e-reserve)
  • Further reading:  Lucy Jayne Kamau, "The Anthropology of Space in Harmonist and Owenite New Harmony," Communal Societies 12 (1992), 68-89.  (e-reserve)


  • In his article, Guarneri examines the nature and the significance of the interconnections and shared goals of the Oneida Community and the Fourierists as one example of the connections among nineteenth-century communitarians.
  • How did John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the Oneida Community, compare and contrast Oneida with the "social reform" communitarians like the Fourierist phalanxes and with religious communitarians?
  • In what ways did these comparisons of similarities and differences matter?  To what extent, and for what purposes, did the members of different communal societies view themselves as allies or competitors?
  • What did Noyes conclude about the role of communitarianism in American society?