English 150

Senior Seminar: Utopianism

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
15 Spring 2007 Starr, George A.
Starr, George
TTh 3:30-5 204 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

More, Thomas: Utopia; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver?s Travels; Scott, Sarah: A Description of Millenium Hall; Bellamy, Edward: Looking Backward; Morris, William: News from Nowhere; Wells, H. G.: The Time Machine and When the Sleeper Wakes; Zamiatin, Eugene: We; Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World; Orwell, George: 1984; Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid?s Tale


"Most Utopian authors are more concerned with selling readers on the social or political merits of their schemes than with the ""merely"" literary qualities of their writing. Although some Utopian writing has succeeded in the sense of making converts, and inspiring some readers to try to realize the ideal society, most has had limited practical impact, yet has managed to provoke readers in various ways?for instance, as a kind of imaginative fiction that comments on ""things as they are"" only indirectly, with fantasy and satire in varying doses. Among the critical questions posed by such material are the problematic status of fiction that is not primarily mimetic, but written in the service of some ulterior purpose; the shifting relationships between what is and what authors think might be or ought to be; how to create the new and strange other than by recombining the old and familiar; and so on. The reading list will certainly include anti-Utopian as well as Utopian works, and may include some writings by Malthus, Owen, Engels and Marx that do not present themselves as flights of fancy. Required writing will consist of a single 15-20-page term paper. Depending on enrollment, each student will be responsible for organizing and leading class discussion (probably teamed with another student) once during the semester. There will be no quizzes or exams, but seminar attendance and participation will be expected, and will affect grades."

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