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Utopia is a term coined by Sir Thomas More in the sixteenth century, a play on Greek for both "no place" and a "good place", setting up an imaginative projection of an idealised socio-political "place". Alongside the domain of the ideal, there is an equally compelling tradition of projecting dystopian visions: the "dark mirror" of the writers’ concerns. The focus of the course is both on texts and theories surrounding these trends in envisioning the desires and anxieties of particular cultures and individuals, examining treatises, fantasies, essays and other speculative fiction. Plotting an historical course through this domain, we will also be questioning the shifting ideals represented, and the kinds of social and political positioning engendered in the shifts. While students will expected to read a number of key texts in the thematic "genres" of utopian or dystopian subjects, and relevant theory, there will also be sufficient opportunity to view other examples and map out the differences and similarities in representation that different choices of texts negotiate.
In this course you will learn: to develop skills in textual and contextual reading and writing, and the application of critical reasoning to utopian / dystopian texts and contexts; to further develop research skills in examining the politics of identity, technology and assumed benefits and dangers to society intrinsic to speculative literature; to explore the relationships between taste and cultural politics in terms of the production and consumption of utopian / dystopian works.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
Subject to approval of the Programme Coordinator.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Required Texts (in course order):• More, Thomas; Utopia; • Swift, Jonathan; Gulliver’s Travels; • Butler, Samuel; Erewhon; • Wells, H.G.; The Island of Doctor Moreau; • Yevgeny Zamyatin, We; • Dick, Philip K; Do androids dream of electric sheep?• Le Guin, Ursula; The Dispossessed; • Atwood, Margaret; Oryx and Crake;• Banks, Iain M; The Player of Games.In addition, supplementary readings of shorter texts and theoretical material will be prepared and available on Learn.(Image: "The Garden City Concept" by Ebenezer Howard, licensed under public domain.)
Domestic fee $1,811.00
International Postgraduate fees
* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.
This course will not be offered if fewer than 5 people apply to enrol.
For further information see
Humanities and Creative Arts.