An American Utopia and Its Global Audiences: Transnational Approaches to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward

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This essay departs from conventional American Studies treatments to resituate Bellamy's utopia of 1888 within transnational debates over industrialism, socialism , and the state in European nations and their settler societies (including the United States) between 1890 and 1940. Building upon critical studies and information about the reception of Bellamy's utopia abroad, it offers three approaches: a genre-based analysis of the utopian hybrid that suggests textual bases for multiple readings; a transnational history of evolutionary socialism that helps explain Bellamy's global relevance in the 1890s and again in the 1930s; and a comparative approach that contrasts the reception of Looking Backward in different national contexts. In the face of traditionally exceptionalist scholarship and the narrower, nationalistic frame of Bellamy's sequel, Equality (1897), to understand Bellamy's global appeal we must recover the international context of Looking Backward and the internationalist views expressed in its pages.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalUtopian Studies
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Arts and Humanities
  • History

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