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Utopia/Dystopia Across Culture

Course #: ENGL 248

Visions of Utopia represent the desire for a better, more just society. They engage the free-play of the political imagination as a form of wish-fulfillment and social daydreaming in order to extrapolate better worlds from the less than perfect present worlds of specific societies. As the negative reflection of utopian desire, dystopias similarly interrogate their societies, magnifying and exacerbating troubling political and social injustices. In this course, we will first trace the development of utopian/dystopian thought and its historical origins in literature and philosophy. From here, we will examine contemporary manifestations of utopia/dystopia in diverse societies in a variety of different mediums (including film, music, graphic novels and literature, as well as religious writings, legal and political documents, and philosophical works). We'll focus on interpreting these utopian and dystopian texts as particular instantiations of cultural work in different societies in response to specific historical and political conditions. In keeping with this cross-cultural approach, the course will engage with a range of modern utopian/dystopian texts from at least four broad perspectives: African, American, European, and Afrofuturist-diasporic. These perspectives will allow us to analyze how utopian and dystopian works are always positioned at the border between defining a particular culture at a particular moment in time (how the writers of the text perceive their culture, its faults, its possibilities) and cultural change (the utopia or dystopia that this culture may transform or harden into given these traits). That is, despite a pretense towards universalism, utopias and dystopias are always about particular wish fulfillments rooted in localized, existing socio-cultural-political conditions. They are always raced, classed, and gendered, revealing issues of cultural conflict within their given local cultural determinations. Given these conditions, students will lea

Pre Requisites: Pre-req = ENGL 102

Offered in:

2024 Spring

Section Class Number Schedule/Time Instructor Location
01 10066 TuTh
11:00 - 12:15 pm
O'Connell,Hugh Charles Wheatley W02-0158
Session: Regular
Class Dates: 01/22/2024 - 05/08/2024
Capacity: 75
Enrolled: 65
Status: Open
Credits: 3/3
Class Notes:
Pre Requisites: Pre-req = ENGL 102
Course Attributes: World Cultures