In Search of a Perfect World: Architectural, Political, Social, and Literary Visions of Utopia; A Quiz Deck
Sample Card Text
America’s most intellectual utopian community, the transcendentalist-inspired Brook Farm near Boston, included Nathaniel Hawthorne, journalist Charles Dana, leaders of the Unitarian movement, philosophers, scholars, and abolitionists. True or false: Observers agreed the community’s leading mind belonged to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Answer False. Although a friend, Emerson never lived at Brook Farm. The true genius there was Margaret Fuller (American, 1810–1850), author, leader of a Boston salon, co-editor with Emerson of The Dial, and in later years a revolutionary in Italy. One observer called her “perhaps the brightest mind at Brook Farm.”
Founded in 1841 by George Ripley (American, 1802–1880), a former Unitarian minister, Brook Farm set out to live by industry “compatible with the highest moral and intellectual culture.” People would live and work together. All would do manual work; Dana found himself cleaning cow dung.
Brook Farm wasn’t ascetic. A member bragged of earning “an honorable livelihood and without being obliged to forego any of the real advantages, pleasures and refinements of society and social intercourse.” Brook Farm was a cooperative, not a commune, with investors earning interest. People were paid equally for work. Brook Farm’s “industry” proved to be an excellent school.