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Replay Event: Arcadias

Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam makes her English-language debut with Arcadia, a mind-blowing manifesto for the abolition of sexual, geographical and even literary frontiers... At the tender age of six, Farah moves into a community in harmony with nature. Its spiritual leader preaches equality, non-violence, anti-speciesism, and uninhibited desire for all, regardless of gender, age, looks, or ability. At fifteen, Farah learns she is intersex, and begins to explore her own desires beyond the confines of gender. What, Farah asks, is a man or a woman? What does it mean to be part of a community? What is utopia when there are refugees seeking shelter who cannot enter?

Lauren Groff is the author of another Arcadia, this one set in the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s. Several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion. Arcadia follows a lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and beyond. As their characters subvert contemporary conceptions of normative sexuality, capitalist culture, and environmental destruction, our speakers ponder whether utopias are doomed by definition. They’ll ask what kind of dreams can be fathomed, what borders redefined what bounds or relations amended.

Moderated by Katy Waldman.

Learn more about the Ideas and Ideals series here