English 190

Research Seminar: Modern Utopian and Dystopian Books and Movies


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2015 Starr, George A.
Thursdays 6-9 PM 203 Wheeler

Book List

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid's Tale; Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Gilman, Charlotte P.: Herland; Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; 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 (such as Metropolis, Modern Times, 1984, Brazil, THX1138, A Clockwork Orange, and  Children of Men) will be included in the syllabus and discussed (although probably not shown) in class.

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