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Imagining Socialism: Aesthetics, Anti-Politics, and Literature in Britain, 1817-1918

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Socialism names a form of collective life that has never been fully realized; consequently, it is best understood as a goal to be imagined. This study locates an aesthetic impulse that animates some of the most consequential socialist writing, thought, and practice of the long nineteenth century. Imagining Socialism explores this tradition of radical activism, investigating the diverse ways that British socialists-from Robert Owen to the mid-century0Christian Socialists to William Morris-marshalled the resources of the aesthetic in their efforts to surmount "politics" and develop non-governmental forms of collective life. Their ambitious attempts at social regeneration led some socialists to explore the liberatory potential afforded by co-operative labor, women's emancipation, political violence, and the power of the fine arts themselves. Imagining Socialism demonstrates that, far from being confined to "socialist revival" of the fin de siecle, important socialist experiments with the emancipatory potential of the aesthetic may be found throughout the period it calls the "socialist century" and may still inspire us today.

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