English R1B

Reading and Composition: Utopian Feminisms

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Fall 2021 Sutton, Emily
MWF 2-3 233 Dwinelle

Book List

Butler, Octavia E.: Parable of the Sower; LeGuin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness; Russ, Joanna: The Female Man

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be posted to bcourses


Amid the COVID pandemic, an oddly utopian undercurrent has emerged in political discourse. The experience of such a radical upheaval of our lived experience, let alone the rapid enactment of policies long deemed unrealistic, has led to a renewed willingness to think bigger. Could the “new normal” actually be a radical change for the better? This class will explore the promises and perils of utopianism, with a specific focus on feminist politics from the 1960s to the present moment. We will read explicitly utopian novels by Ursula LeGuin, Joanna Russ and Octavia E. Butler, as well as polemical texts that tap into utopian aspirations, such as Valerie Solanas’ outlandish SCUM Manifesto. This science-fictional mode has proven a compelling tool for radically reimagining our world, but it has often been mired in transphobia, essentialism, and racism. Throughout the semester, we will both map this complicated legacy and consider the interpretative and imaginative possibilities it may still hold for us now.

As well as exploring these ideas in depth, this class will be focused on developing your abilities to write and think critically at a college level. Along with discussions of our primary texts, you will develop these skills in weekly writing workshops. Building on a series of smaller assignments, peer edits and revisions, you will work your way towards producing a research essay that integrates secondary sources into your own original analysis of a literary text.

Back to Semester List