12 episodes

American Utopia tells the story of the Oneida Community, a radical 19th century free-love experiment in communal living. Building on his own research as well as interviews with top historians, host Dan Greenstone illuminates the fascinating lives of the liberated women and men who overturned society’s conventions about marriage, love, sex, work and childrearing. Subscribe now.
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American Utopia Dan Greenstone

    • History
    • 4.7 • 24 Ratings

American Utopia tells the story of the Oneida Community, a radical 19th century free-love experiment in communal living. Building on his own research as well as interviews with top historians, host Dan Greenstone illuminates the fascinating lives of the liberated women and men who overturned society’s conventions about marriage, love, sex, work and childrearing. Subscribe now.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Check Out Dan's New Documentary Film--Far Out West

    Check Out Dan's New Documentary Film--Far Out West

    Hey folks, I just wanted to let you know about my new documentary film, Far Out West: Inside California's Kerista Commune.
    It's available now on Amazon, (or for iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu click here).   
    The Kerista Commune (1971-1991) is the closest thing we have to a modern day descendant of Oneida. Kerista was a group marriage, that had a charismatic leader, a form of Mutual Criticism (which they named Gestalt-o-Rama) a successful company.  And the parallels are even more erie--they raised children together, and suffered an exquisitely painful breakup when the company made them wealthy.
    The Keristans are fascinating, intelligent people, who have been reluctant to share their story until now. My co-director and are the first people to be given access to the more than 250 hours of home movies that the Keristans made to document their utopia.  Far Out West utilizes this footage and over 50 hours of interviews with the former Keristans to tell this amazing story. 
    So, go ahead and rent it, and let me know what you think of it-- dangreenstone@yahoo.com
    Or, better yet, leave a review for the film on Amazon or iTunes, which helps us get the word out. 
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    • 1 min
    : Madness on Trial: Dan's New Podcast Series

    : Madness on Trial: Dan's New Podcast Series

    Introducing Dan's new podcast series, Madness on Trial.
    Have you seen that John Hinckley Jr. is starting a music career? For real. He's planning a "Redemption Tour." When I first saw this, it kinda broke my brain and sent me down a research rabbit hole. Well, I've  come out the other side with a new podcast called Madness on Trial. It's a deep dive into  Hinckley's trial (the most important insanity defense case of the last century) and the history of the insanity defense. We've just released the trailer, and regular episodes will begin coming out next week. It's available on Apple, Spotify, etc. I hope you enjoy it!
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/madness-on-trial/id1644545571
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    • 3 min
    Episode 1: Harriet Worden's Whiplash

    Episode 1: Harriet Worden's Whiplash

    In the first episode of American Utopia, we meet Harriet Worden. After Harriet's mother died, Harriet's father, in a decision that would profoundly shape her life, brought his 9 year old daughter to live in the brand new Oneida Community. Through Harriet's eyes, we learn about the excruciating process of Mutual Criticism, what it was like to grow up in the Children's House, the vibrant cultural pursuits that made life joyous, and the complicated, and sometimes painful sexual practices of the Community.
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    • 43 min
    Episode 2: A Perfect Man

    Episode 2: A Perfect Man

    In this episode we meet Oneida's founder, John Humphrey Noyes, a painfully shy boy whose life and character are transformed after he attends a wild, four day religious revival. We watch as Noyes becomes a religious and sexual revolutionary so extreme that Yale College expels him. Still, Noyes manages to convince himself, and others, that he's actually perfect. And with the help of historians Christian Goodwillie and Ellen Wayland Smith, we compare Noyes’ ideas to those of other fringe religious visionaries of the 1830s and 1840s.
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    • 36 min
    Episode 3: First Comes Marriage

    Episode 3: First Comes Marriage

    Dan and historian Stephanie Coontz talk vibrators, graham crackers, and female orgasms, as they try to make sense of Oneida's Complex Marriage system, in which 300 adults were (heterosexually) married to each other. This (complicated!) arrangement grew directly out of the wide ranging, and sophisticated, critique of 19th century marriage and family structure put forth by John Humprhrey Noyes, Oneida's founder. Dan and Stephanie evaluate both Noyes' critique of 19th century sex, love and marriage and the commune's attempt to improve all three. So, yeah, this one might not be for kids.
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    • 44 min
    Episode 4: Building Utopia

    Episode 4: Building Utopia

    In 1848, when word of his free-love practices spread in his hometown of Putney, Vermont, John Humphrey Noyes and a few followers fled to Oneida Creek, in central New York state. There, bucking terrible odds, a harsh climate, and the nostalgic pull of the agrarian past, Noyes, and his followers managed to build a flourishing, vibrant community of 300 people who lived and loved together under one giant roof. This is the story of how they did it.
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    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

P. No ,

Season 2

When??

journalism grammar test ,

Obsessed

This may be the most interesting podcast I’ve listened to in years

Seeker718 ,

Entertaining and complex history

I agree with other reviewers who this podcast absolutely fascinating. Not only can we learn a lot from the Oneida cult / utopian experiment, but about 19th century America in general. Many of our current debates aren’t new, just new-ish.

I will say I took home a somewhat different message than one reviewer. I saw the socialist-capitalist shift not as hypocrisy, but as flexibility and humility. Maybe we shouldn’t hold too rigidly to any of our pet beliefs.

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