English 190

Research Seminar: Utopian & Dystopian Stories and Movies


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2012 Starr, George A.
W 6-9 P.M. new room: 121 Latimer

Book List

Atwood, Margaret: Oryx and Crake; Bellamy, Edward: Looking Backward 2000-1887; Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Gilman, Charlotte P.: Herland; Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World; Morris, William: News from Nowhere; Orwell, George: 1984; Wells, H. G.: Three Prophetic Novels; Zamyatin, Yevgeny: We

Description

Most Utopian authors are more concerned with persuading readers of 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 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. We will consider anti-Utopian as well as Utopian books, and a few films such as Lang’s Metropolis, Chaplin’s Modern Times, Gilliam’s Brazil and the like. Required writing will consist of a single long paper; there will be no quizzes or exams, but seminar attendance and participation will be expected, and will affect grades.

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