Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Benjamin Goldberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.


Cross-cultural Studies, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity


Before Sir Thomas More published Utopia and defined his ideal world with this fictional land, humans had been looking for their ideal society for centuries based on various religions and cultures. Yet, there are a few studies focusing on Utopia and Dystopia in cross-cultural contexts. This thesis will explore the two main questions: 1) can Utopia and Dystopia be separated? and 2) how does the utopian concept in the West involve in Eastern culture during the postwar period in postcolonial perspective?

Phoenix in Japan and THX 1138 in U.S. are two well-known works during the post-World War II period via their popular media: manga in Japan and film in U.S. Phoenix, a renowned Japanese manga created by Osamu Tezuka. Phoenix the manga not only reveals the rise and fall of human civilization but also shows the reincarnation of life with Buddhist ideas, which means one living being starts its new life in different physical form after it dies. This reincarnation of life also points out how utopian-dystopian system functions in the East. THX 1138, a famous American film directed by George Lucas, starts with a robot-dominated world. More's definition of Utopia reveals several features of ideal society: an isolated society, well-trained and well-ordered citizens, a democratic government, universal education, and loose religious limits. According to More's utopian features, the society in THX 1138 is quite familiar with the so-called utopian world. However, the method of dehumanization in this film brings the concept and features of Dystopia.

After the 16th century, the term Utopia, as a Western ideology, entered East Asian cultures. In Eastern perspective, Utopia and Dystopia are the continuous states of one society like a circulation system. In the West, utopian-dystopian works tend to focus on the specific period. By discussing Phoenix and THX 1138, I want to show this continuous social pattern in different cultural contexts.