English R1B

Reading and Composition: Dystopian Fiction and the Fate of the Body

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
18 Spring 2009 Edwards, Erin E
Edwards, Erin
TTh 3:30-5 301 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Thomas More, Utopia; and a Course Reader.

Film List: Blade Runner (1982); Children of Men (2007)


This course will examine the body as a site through which dystopian fiction enacts many of its central conflicts.  We will discuss ways in which dystopian fiction both speculates about the future of the body and registers anxiety about the loss of more traditional bodily forms.  Reading and viewing a range of novels and films, we will encounter topics such as gender, sexuality, reproduction, cloning, and cyborg bodies.  Despite the apparent exoticism of its worlds and bodies, dystopian fiction asks fundamental questions about what a body is, and how it is produced, controlled, or altered by outside forces.  The course will thus consider how dystopian fiction affords a critical distance through which contemporary political and social contexts are critiqued.

In class discussions and in short paper assignments, we will practice close readings skills, working toward developing arguments from initials questions and observations about the text.  The course will also introduce students to research skills and will culminate in a final paper that incorporates historical, theoretical, or critical sources into its argument.

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