Monday, October 10, 2011

Utopian Architecture Highlighted in Exhibition Gallery Talk

The Special Collections Library will host a gallery talk on utopian architecture by Nathaniel Coleman, Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at Newcastle University, UK, on Monday, October 24, at 4:30 p.m. in Foster Auditorium, 101 Paterno Library. The talk, titled “Representing Utopia: Images of Ideal Places?” will be held in conjunction with an exhibition called “This Way to Utopia,” opening on October 19 in the Special Collections Library Exhibition Hall, 104 Paterno Library.

Nathaniel Coleman’s talk will deal with the representation of utopia, which has long been a significant problem for architecture because most studies on architecture and utopia begin and end with alluring images of grandiose architectural projects, often at the scale of the city. But the predominantly negative view of utopia as absolutist has encouraged architects to retreat from risking visions of better futures. Coleman asks, what if at least a large number of totalizing plans allegedly depicting utopia are arguably not actually utopian? Might that liberate architects to once again engage in social imagination of a utopian sort?

The exhibition, drawn from the extensive holdings of the Arthur O. Lewis Utopia Collection housed in Rare Books and Manuscripts, will highlight the themes of imaginary cities, gender and gender relations, dystopias, colonial and postcolonial utopias, communities, and utopias of the 18th century. The exhibition will be mounted to coincide with the annual conference of the Society for Utopian Studies, held this year on the Penn State campus from October 20 to 23. Some 130 utopian scholars of all disciplines will meet to celebrate the conference theme of “Archiving Utopia – Utopia as Archive,” as well as the ongoing evolution of one of the world’s largest and best collections of utopian materials in the world in the Penn State Libraries. The conference will not only draw attention to the breadth and depth of the Lewis Utopia Collection but also the importance of the archive as broader theme within utopian studies.

The presentation will also be available through MediaSite Live at (no login is required)

For more information, contact Sandra Stelts, 814-865-1793, or

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