ENGL 494 A: Honors Seminar

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 155
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings:

All stories and essays not included in the books ordered for the class are available on the Canvas site for the course, in the form of pdf files.  Any assignment below that was not a book ordered for the class or available online at a link given in the schedule below can be found on the Canvas site, on the “Files” page, listed alphabetically under the author’s last name.   Suggested readings are not required; I will not assume you have read the suggested materials, but will refer to them in class. They are included primarily for students who are especially interested in the topic of the day’s class.

Week 1.

September 25: Introduction


Week 2.

September 30: Lyman Tower Sargent, “Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited,” available online through the UW Library site (see https://www-jstor-org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/stable/20719246?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents; please note that you will need to use your UW Netid to access this essay)

                                  Ursula LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

                                  N.K. Jemisin, “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”

                                  Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “A Woman’s Utopia,” in Daring to Dream: Utopian Fiction by United States Women Before 1950, ed. Carol Farley Kessler

                                  Rokeya Sakhawat Hossein, “Sultana’s Dream,” in The Utopia Reader, 2nd ed., Gregory Claeys and Lyman  Tower Sargent, eds.


October 2: Darko Suvin, “Defining the Literary Genre of Utopia,” chapter 3 in Metamorphoses of Science Fiction

                          Sofia Samatar, “The Red Thread,” available on the "Files" page, but also available online at http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-red-thread/

                          Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother”

                          Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”

                          Ray Bradbury, “Way Up in the Middle of the Air”

Suggested only: Fredric Jameson, “Varieties of the Utopian,” chapter 1 in Archeologies of the Future

Suggested only: Frances Bartkowski, “Introduction” to Feminist Utopias,



Week 3.

October 7: Darko Suvin, “Estrangement and Cognition,” chapter 1 of Metamorphoses of Science Fiction

                          Ted Chiang, “Liking What You See: A Documentary”

                          Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”

                          Benjamin Rosenbaum, “The Guy Who Worked for Money,” available online at http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-guy-who-worked-for-money

                          Rachel Swirsky, “Eros, Philia, Agape”

Suggested only: Suvin, “SF and the Novum,” chapter 4 of Metamorphoses of Science Fiction


October 9: Begin Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887

                         William Morris’s review of Bellamy and Bellamy’s review of Morris’s News From Nowhere, in The Utopia Reader, 2nd ed., Gregory Claeys and Lyman  Tower Sargent, eds., pages 315-320 and 339-340



Week 4.

October 14: Finish Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887

Suggested only: Lynne Segal, “Inventing Utopias,” chapter 6 in Radical Happiness

Suggested only: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland, chapter 5


October 16: Begin Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed



Week 5.

October 21: Continue LeGuin, The Dispossessed

                             Tom Moylan, “The Literary Utopia,” chapter 3 in Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian  Imagination


October 23: Finish LeGuin, The Dispossessed



Week 6.

October 28: Begin Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Suggested only, Robin D.G. Kelley, “’When History Sleeps’” and “’When History Awakes,” introduction and conclustion to Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination


October 30: Continue Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand


Due Date: By 5 p.m., Friday, November 1, submit your final paper topics


Week 7.

November 4: Finish Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

November 6: Begin Nisi Shawl, Everfair


Week 8.

November 11: No class; Veteran’s Day        

November 13: Finish Shawl, Everfair

Suggested only: Avery Gordon, “Something More Powerful Than Skepticism,” chapter 25 in Keeping Good Time


Due date: By 5 p.m., Friday, November 15, turn in final paper proposals, with annotated bibliography of outside sources


Week 9.

November 18: Begin Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

                                  Tom Moylan, “The Critical Dystopia”


November 20: Finish Butler, Parable of the Sower


Week 10.

November 25: Begin Cory Doctorow, Walkaway

November 27: No class; Thanksgiving holiday


Week 11.

December 2: Continue Doctorow, Walkaway

Suggested only: Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, chapter 6, in Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

December 4: Finish Doctorow, Walkway


Due date: Final papers due, by 5 p.m., Wednesday, December 11

Catalog Description: 
Survey of current issues confronting literary critics today, based on revolving themes and topics. Focuses on debates and developments affecting English language and literatures, including questions about: the relationship of culture and history; the effect of emergent technologies on literary study; the rise of interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Honors Course
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:50pm