St. Thomas More's Utopia was the model for the Utopian writings of the 18th-20th centuries. But most contemporary readers are surprised to read excerpts from More's original work, finding it just plain grim--particularly in his insistence on homogeneity.
Has More's Utopia been the model for cities or suburbs? Listen to Malvina Reynold's protest song "Little Boxes" (used in the opening credits to Showtime's series Weeds) and view the first two videos on the play list below. See my playlist on Youtube for other videos that provide you with other artists' covers of the song.
Questions for discussion: 1) Could the song be used to criticize More's Utopia? How and why? 2) More regulates his Utopia to insure homogeneity. Suburbs have strict zoning laws, and many developments even have convenants that further regulate the appearance of homes and gardens. But the Weeds video also suggests that suburban inhabitants choose uniformity, even if unconsciously. Do you think humans are by nature creatures who seeks sameness or diversity? How does one's answer to this question about human nature affect our views of what an ideal city would be like? 2) Compare and contrast the first two videos. Does the song better apply to cities or suburbs? It has become a truism that cities are places of diversity and suburbs are places of homogeneity (cf. Simmel). Is that truism true? Why or why not?
copyright 2007-2015 Sharon M. Meagher, Ph.D. Every effort is made to keep all links and resources up-to-date. Please send corrections or suggestionsto me. Thank you.