English 190

Research Seminar: Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of Dystopia


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2016 Danner, Mark
M 3-6 Note new location: 223 Wheeler

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Description

At what past moment did the future grow so dark? Formal liteary dystopia has been with us prominently since at least 1726, with the arrival of Swift's Gulliver. But the tendency to critique the present by imagining a darkly extrapolated future surely extends back much further—and grew in prevalence and popularity until the twentieth became the veritable dystopic century. Today central components of dystopian satire—global climate destruction, nuclear annihilation, terrorist states—have become commonplaces of our politics. In such a world has dystopia become prophetic, or redundant? In this seminar we will grapple with that question, and with the complex strategies of prophetic satire, as we explore the literature of dystopia present and past, plumbing increasingly murky visions of destruction to come.

Authors whose work we will read include Margaret Atwood, J.G. Ballard, Anthony Burgess, William Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, P.D. James, Franz Kafka, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, Flann O'Brien, Philip Roth, Vladimir Sorokin, H.G. Welles, and Yevgeny Zamyatin.

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