ENGL 200 B: Reading Literary Forms

Utopian/Dystopian Societies in Contemporary Fiction

Summer Term: 
A-term
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 10:50am - 1:00pm
Location: 
CDH 139
SLN: 
11302
Instructor:
John O'Neill
John O'Neill

Syllabus Description:

English 200B: Utopian/Dystopian societies in contemporary fiction   Summer (A term) 2015 (VLPA and W)

As Fox TV cast a "reality" series titled "Utopia," an article in the Seattle Times chronicled "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?

The central purpose of English 200B is to enjoy reading literary fiction. In this class we will read three very readable recent novels -- Lauren Groff's Arcadia, set in the recent past; Dave Eggers' The Circle, set in a recognizable present; and Chang-Rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea, set in the near future.  All three experiment with different mixes of utopian, anti-utopian, and dystopian elements.  We will engage with the literary elements of these novels, and explore some of the political and social implications of this turn in contemporary culture.   Assignment include short essays and class discussion.

A few comments from students who took this course in Summer 2014:  

"The way John related real world issues to the novels was very effective. Made  me a fiction lover!"

"John helped me understand what it means to read fiction. Before this class I did not know how meaningful and satisfying reading books like The Circle and  the others would be."

"Every class helped me understand the book even better, mainly because John fostered discussions that were very meaningful and made class a true learning
environment that was very comfortable and made me want to come to class."

"Great comments [on written work] by John. Very fair and helpful."

 

 

Additional Details:

English 200B: Utopian/Dystopian societies in contemporary fiction Summer (A term) 2015 (VLPA and W)

As Fox TV cast a "reality" series titled "Utopia," an article in the Seattle Times chronicled "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 very readable recent novels -- Lauren Groff's Arcadia, set in the recent past; Dave Eggers' The Circle, set in a recognizable present; and Chang-Rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea, set in the near future. All three experiment with different mixes of utopian, anti-utopian, and dystopian elements. We will engage with the literary elements of these novels, and explore some of the political and social implications of this turn in contemporary culture. Assignment include short essays and class discussion.

Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:28am