Radical Community: Why the Shakers Matter Now | Newberry

Radical Community: Why the Shakers Matter Now

Led by Maggie Taft.
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Four sessions. Tuesdays, November 2-November 30. Class will not meet on November 23.



For the Fall 2021 term, we’re offering a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. Registration opens on September 1st at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.

Seminar Description

Why do the Shakers, a utopian sect founded in the eighteenth century, matter today? This seminar explores the Shakers as radicals who imagined an alternative way to live, outside of conventional American culture. What did this alternative entail? What made it possible? Using Shaker writings and design history to answer these questions, participants will engage with such topics as gender and racial equality, accessibility, and collective ownership.

Four sessions. Registration – $170

Maggie Taft, PhD, is curator of the forthcoming permanent exhibition at Shaker Museum in Chatham, NY, and founding director of Writing Space, a Chicago writing center for artists and designers.

Materials List


  • Digital Course Packet.

First Reading:

  • Chris Jennings, “The Shakers: American Zion” (from Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism; 54pgs)

  • Excerpts from North Family journals (1834, 1873, 1920; primary source documenting daily activity in Mount Lebanon Shaker Village; roughly 20pgs)

    These will be distributed with registration email.

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration Information

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, September 1st . Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning August 25th at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: The Newberry is moving to a new registration system called Learning Stream. This will simplify the registration process for participants, instructors, and staff. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at seminars@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.