Thomas More’s Utopia, published in Latin in 1516, describes the conditions of the England of the Early Tudors in Book I after his visit there and what a country might be “if all were well” in Book II.

Ironically, utopia means “nowhere” in Greek. More chose the contrary idea of “what might-be” in his Utopia:

  • Where no one is idle and the fruits of labor are shared equally
  • Where a short working day leaves leisure for everyone to take pleasure in living
  • The vexed problems of human relationships are handled with intelligence and understanding.
  • Marriage bonds are sacred, but sometimes divorce is recognized as just and wise
  • The older and younger generations get along without friction.
  • Where neighbor helps neighbor and nation helps nation

Where could one find this Utopian civilization? As the Greeks declared, “nowhere”!! But why not dream? Why not imagine? Why not try to improve the quality of life where we live? Good for you, Thomas More. Thank you for starting this dialogue 500 years ago.

The King of Utopia, King Utopus, brought “all rude and wild people of the world to excellent perfection in all good fashions, humanity, and civil gentleness” (71). They now surpass all the people of the World. I love this!

This is my first time reading Utopia. Thank you, Parnassus Bookstore in Yarmouth, Massachusetts for providing a lovely, gently used, 1947 edition for me to discover on a recent vacation. [photo of Parnassus]

Parnassus Bookstore, Yarmouth MA
My new treasure

More thinks of all aspects of building his perfect city including economics, agriculture, politics, and healthcare, to name a few. As an Educator, my favorite section of More’s creating his perfect city was “learning”.

In More’s Utopia, “Learning” must include 1) Grammar by Constantine Lascaris and Theodorus Gaza; 2) Linguistics by Hesychius and Pedanius Dioscorides; 3) Composition by Aldus Manutius; 4) Poetry by Aristophanes, Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles; 4) History by Thucydides, Herodutus, Herodian, Hippocrates, and Galen. Definitely a good start!

Utopian model for ENG COMP course

I am currently reevaluating a university course in English Composition and Rhetoric that I am teaching in light of recent challenges in AI, Dual Credit, Online Learning- asynchronous vs synchronous, Academic Integrity, and Digital Learning and Fluency.

In addition to the standard skill development for an English Composition course—effective writing, critical reading and thinking skills, analyzing texts, and documenting in MLA—there are many things to consider in the area of Digital Fluency:

  • In the age of “streaming” (TikTok, Instagram, YouTube), how can I train students to be more Digitally competent for Academic courses at the University level? To identify and cite credible sources for Academic Research.
  • How to prepare students to write in their professional lives in the workplace–in this Digital age
  • As the students in my university courses are a combination of Digitally-Native and Non-Digitally Native, what should my standards be for Digital competency? Do I need to provide Digital skills in the course curriculum or require that they are Digitally competent as a prerequisite? How would I test for this?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is the Utopian model for this ENG COMP course? —“if all were well”!

I will conclude with More’s typographical farewell in Utopia:

                          Thus, O liberal supporter of good

                               Learning and flower of this

                                  Our time, I bid you most

                                         Heartily farewell.

Work Cited

Sir Thomas More. The Utopia. Princeton:  D. Van Nostrand Company, 1947.