Picture (Im)Perfect: Utopia and Dystopia in Literature

30 points

Not offered 2021, offered in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts


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.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.