Utopian/Dystopian societies in contemporary fiction
As Fox TV casts for a new “reality” series to be titled “Utopia,” a recent article in The Seattle Times chronicles “the current craze for post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories.” What accounts for this interest, evident in both popular culture and literature, in alternative communities or societies, whether these are anarchic or authoritarian, reminiscent of the state of nature or suggestive of a surveillance state?
In this class we will read three recent novels, alternately set in the recent past, a recognizable present, or the near future, that experiment with different mixes of utopian, anti-utopian, and dystopian elements. As much as we will focus on the literary elements of these novels, we will also explore some of the political and social implications of this dystopian turn in contemporary culture.
Novels by Dave Eggers, Chang-Rae Lee, and Lauren Groff.
Three short essays, group work, and class discussion.