Sir Thomas More's Utopia

In this module, we will read Utopia,by Sir Thomas More. You can access the book here or here. You can also download an audio version of the book here.

And if you are feeling ambitious, an artist painted the whole text on this building. Can you read it?


(Photo by soapbeard)

Part 1

To prepare for reading this book, look at this presentation on Utopia and More himself.

Then go to the blog and post a question that you have about More or the book. The questions should ask for opinions more than facts: Why do you think… Post your question as a regular post. Then go to the questions of your classmates and try to answer them. To do that, you may have to look for more information on More. Wikipedia is a good place to start.



  • Question requires thought to answer - 2 points
  • Question requires no thought to answer - 1 point


  • Response demonstrates research and thought - 3 points
  • Response demonstrates some thought or some research - 2 points
  • Response demonstrates no thought or research - 1 point

Part 2

Now it is time to look at the introduction to the book. You will read it and then focus on one aspect of the information presented there. One will look at his life. The other will look at the book itself. You will write a summary of your section and upload it here.

Evaluation: One point will be given for each of these elements present in the post
  • Entry is complete.
  • Entry is accurate according to the text.
  • Entry cites the source.
  • Entry has appropriate organization (beginning, middle and end).
  • Entry can be easily understood in spite of a few grammar or word form errors.

Part 3

We will look at Book 1. To look more closely at this part of the text, I recommend that you look at the text at Bartleby's, here. The paragraph numberings will help.

Step 1: Wikipedia describes the contents of Book 1:

The first discussions with Raphael allow him to discuss some of the modern ills affecting Europe such as the tendency of kings to start wars and the subsequent bleeding away of money on fruitless endeavours. He also criticises the use of execution to punish theft saying that thieves might as well murder who they rob, to remove witnesses, if the punishment is going to be the same. He lays most of the problems of theft at the cause of enclosure—the enclosing of common land—and the subsequent poverty and starvation of people who are denied access to land because of sheep farming.

Find passages in the text that support this claim. Copy and paste them here, along with the paragraph number. Each person should find one passage from the text. It should be one that has not been used yet. Place it under the correct heading.

Evaluation: One point will be given for each of these elements present in the post.
  • Passage addresses one of the claims.
  • Passage is listed under the correct claim.
  • Paragraph number is included.

Step 2: The next step is to figure out what that means. Take your passage and explain it in your own words on the blog. You should paraphrase it and explain what it has to do with the Wikipedia summary.

Evaluation: See blog post rubric.

Part 4

Now we move to Book 2. To read and study this part of the text, you will work in groups. Each group will choose two sections of the book to read and summarize. Each group will do a different chapter of the book. You will read it, discuss it, write your summary of it, revise and edit the summary, and post it to the wiki here. Then you will repeat the process with a different chapter.


Content - 5 points possible

  • Did not cover material assigned - 1 point
  • Covered a minimal amount of the material or was grossly inaccurate - 2 points
  • Covered the material fairly well but was inaccurate in some places OR covered the material less well but what was there was accurate - 3 points
  • Covered the material completely but was inaccurate in some places - 4 points
  • Covered material completely and accurately - 5 points

Writing - 5 points possible

  • Cannot be understood due to serious word choice or grammar problems - 1 point
  • Can be understood with difficulty - 2 points
  • Portions can be understood easily and other portions can only be understood with difficulty - 3 points
  • Can be understood but with some difficulty due to a number of grammar or word choice errors - 4 points
  • Can be easily understood even though there may be a few errors - 5 points

Part 5

Now that we have read and thought about the book, it is time to write. This time we will write an opinion paper in which you answer these two questions:

  1. Could a Utopia like More describes exist? Why or why not?
  2. Would you want to live in it if it did? Explain.

Be sure to refer to More's text in your writing. For instance, tell me what things that he describes could or could not exist and why. Refer to specific things that he talks about.

When you have finished your first draft, you may send it to me as an email attachment, and I will look at it and send it back to you. When you have revised and edited it, upload it to WebCT.

Evaluation: This paper will be graded according to the rubric on WebCT.
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