English 190

Research Seminar: Utopian and Dystopian Literature and Film


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2015 Starr, George A.
Tues. 7-10 P.M. 300 Wheeler

Book List

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid's Tale; Bellamy, Edward: Looking Backward 2000-1887; Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Gilman, Charlotte P.: Herland; Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; More, Thomas: Utopia; Morris, William: News from Nowhere; Orwell, George: 1984; Wells, Herbert G.: Three Prophetic Novels; Zamyatin, Yevgeny: We

Description

Most utopian and dystopian authors are more concerned with persuading readers of the merits of their ideas than with the "merely" literary qualities of their writing. Although utopian writing has sometimes made converts, inspiring readers to try to realize the ideal society, most of it 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" indirectly yet effectively, 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. Some films (dystopian rather than utopian) will be included in the syllabus and discussed (although probably not shown) in class.

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