ELCS6041 - Utopias and Dystopias in 20th Century Literature
Value: 0.5 course units
Tutor: Ruth Austin
Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2,000 words each.
Through the study of some of the most controversial and celebrated examples of what may be termed as utopian, anti-utopian and dystopian literature this seminar will explore key elements of dystopian / anti-utopian literature from the twentieth century. The module examines themes such as the control and manipulation of language, as well as religion, history and gender and considers the way in which the contemporary can be explored in an imagined future.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915) is set in an isolated society made up entirely of women and engages with issues relating to gender identity in the early part of the twentieth century. Zamyatin's We (1924) presents a totalitarian society, "OneState', and is arguably the archetype of the modern dystopia. Brave New World (1931) in an imagined future engages with questions of identity, mass production, homogenization post World War One. In A Clockwork Orange (1962) Anthony Burgess experiments with the use of language in a text which engages with questions about violence and free-will. J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962) is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which only remnants of society and social order remain.
Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (any edition)
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (any edition)
- Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (any edition)
- J. G. Ballard, The Drowned World (London: Harper Perennial, 2006)
- Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (London: Penguin) Translated by Clarence Brown
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- M. Keith Booker, 'Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide' (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994)
- M. Keith Booker, 'The dystopian impulse in modern literature: fiction as social criticism' (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1994)
- Gregory Claeys, ed, 'The Cambridge companion to utopian literature' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
- Thomas Moylan, 'Scraps of the untainted sky: science fiction, utopia, dystopia' (Boulder, CO; Oxford: Westview Press, 2000).