Howells spoke on “Discord in Harmonie: George Rapp’s Ideal Communities in the United States, 1805-1905”. He compared these “lived Utopias” with British social reformer Robert Owen’s attempt to establish a similar community at New Harmony, Indiana in the 19th century. Howells used these examples to interrogate the notion of “success” in Utopian culture, together with the role of religion in Utopian thinking.
The conference took place in New Lanark, Scotland. Now preserved as a World Heritage Site, New Lanark was established by Owen himself before his American experiment. Howells continues to research Utopian critical theory with particular reference to the works of Ernst Bloch.