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Utopia Taster Class Preparation

More and the Defence of the Christian Commonwealth (Steve Hindle)

The minimum preparation you should do is to read Thomas More's Utopia in one of the recommended editions (see below). If you have time, and really wish to get a feel for what MA study is like, please make notes on the questions. You will find the recommended secondary reading helpful when trying to formulate some answers.




You should prepare notes on the following questions:


1. To what extent is Utopia a piece of humanist propaganda?


2. How seriously are we meant to take More’s description of Utopia as ‘The best state of a commonwealth’?


3. Based on what we learn of Utopian religion, what might we conclude are More’s major concerns about religion?


Set Text


More, Thomas, Utopia


Many editions are available. The following are recommended:


More, Thomas, Utopia, trans. and ed. George M. Logan et al., 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2002)


More, Thomas, Utopia, trans. and ed. Robert M. Adams, rev. ed. (New York, 1992)


Further Reading


Bradshaw, B., ‘More on Utopia’, The Historical Journal, 24 (1981): 1-27


Bradshaw, B., ‘Transalpine Humanism’, in J.H Burns and Mark Goldie, eds., The CambridgeHistory of Political Thought, 1450-1700 (Cambridge, 1991): 95-131.


Davis, J.C., Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 (Cambridge, 1981)


Greenblatt, S., Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago, 1980)


Guy, John A., Thomas More (London, 2000)


Hexter, J.H., ‘Thomas More: On the Margins of Modernity’, Journal of British Studies, 1 (1961): 20-37


Nelson, Eric, ‘Greek Nonsense in More’s Utopia’, The Historical Journal, 44 (2001): 889-917


Sargent, Lyman Tower, ‘More’s Utopia: An Interpretation of its Social Theory’, History of Political Thought, 5 (1984): 195-210.


Skinner, Quentin, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1978): I, ‘The Renaissance’.


Skinner, Quentin, ‘Sir Thomas More's Utopia and the Language of Renaissance Humanism’, in Anthony Pagden (ed.), The Languages of Political Theory in Early-Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1987): 123-57


Wootton, D., ‘Friendship Portrayed: A New Account of Utopia’, History Workshop Journal, 45 (Spring 1998): 29-47