Sex in Imagined Spaces
Gender and Utopia from More to Bloch

Caitríona Ní Dhúill

Legenda (General Series)


23 April 2010  •  200pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-41-8 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-315088-07-5 (Taylor & Francis ebook)


From Thomas More onwards, writers of utopias have constructed alternative models of society as a way of commenting critically on existing social practices. In the utopian alternative, the sex-gender system of the contemporary society may be either reproduced or radically re-organised. Reading utopia as a dialogue between reality and possibility, this study examines the relationship between historical sex-gender systems and those envisioned by utopian texts. Surveying a broad range of utopian writing from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Huxley, Zamyatin, Wedekind, Hauptmann, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, this book reveals the variety and complexity of approaches to ‘re-arranging’ gender, and locates these 're-arrangements' within contemporary debates on sex and reproduction, masculinity and femininity, desire, taboo and family structure. These issues occupy a central position in the dialogue between utopian imagination and anti-utopian thought which culminates in the great dystopias of the twentieth century and the postmodern re-invention of utopia.

Caitríona Ní Dhúill is Lecturer in German at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University.


  • ‘Ni Dhúill's study shines a bright light on the hitherto neglected importance of sex and gender questions in utopian societies. Sex In Imagined Spaces is a cogently argued, beautifully written, and highly original contribution to knowledge in utopia studies and beyond; it not only mobilizes important wider cultural developments for the analysis of literary texts, but also gives a brilliant gender-theoretical spin to the double function of utopian texts as vision and critique.’ — Anna Katharina Schaffner, Germanistik in Ireland 7 (2013), 228-30
  • ‘This excellent monograph tackles the concept of utopia by repositioning it within the fields of literature and creative practice examined through the lens of the gendered body.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 49.2 (2013)
  • ‘This is an excellent book which deals with the relationship between utopian desire, gender relations, and social outcome in a nuanced and intelligent way.’ — Peter Thompson, Modern Language Review 108.3, 2013, 948-49 (full text online)

Bibliography entry:

Dhúill, Caitríona Ní, Sex in Imagined Spaces: Gender and Utopia from More to Bloch (Cambridge: Legenda, 2010)

First footnote reference: 35 Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Sex in Imagined Spaces: Gender and Utopia from More to Bloch (Cambridge: Legenda, 2010), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Dhúill, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Dhúill, Caitríona Ní. 2010. Sex in Imagined Spaces: Gender and Utopia from More to Bloch (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Dhúill 2010: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Dhúill 2010: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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