Beyond IQ


Speculative Literature: Utopias & Dystopias

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Language Arts
InstructorJosh Shaine
5-10 students
Suggested Ages: 13+ years old
Meets: TBD

CLASS DESCRIPTION:

The concept of utopia – a society without conflict in which all people’s needs are met and they live in harmony – has intrigued us for more than 2000 years. Just as surely, there are those among us convinced that any place that a substantial number of people would find utopic, others would find unlivable. And worse yet is the certainty that others have that a place set up as a utopia would become, whether quickly or slowly, a dystopia à a place of oppression, good only for the chosen few.

In this course, we will review historical views of utopia, take a gander at some of the attempts to create them in practice, and consider the rise of dystopian fiction, both ~100 years ago and again in the recent past. Along the way, we will explore what we consider to be necessary conditions for a utopia and design our own – or at least, we’ll try to!

Text: The Utopia Reader, 2nd Edition

Weekly time: 0-2 hours per week expected, with opportunities for both writing and more reading/viewing

Session #

Topic

Material

Session

1

Introduction

This syllabus

Session

2

History of Utopias in Fiction and Fact

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2015/09/us/communes-american-story/

Session

3

How did We Get from Utopias to Dystopias

https://www.ft.com/content/7ecde664-452b-11e7-8d27-59b4dd6296b8

Session

4

Building Utopia – Part One (Ideas)

In class exercise

Session

5

Herland by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/herland/summary

Session

6

The City and the Stars/ Against the Fall of Night, both by Arthur C. Clarke

https://www.tor.com/2018/01/11/two-improvised-fugues-arthur-c-clarkes-the-city-and-the-stars-and-against-the-fall-of-night/

Session

7

Building Utopia – Part Two (Practicalities)

In class exercise

Session

8

YA Dystopian Fiction, Part 1

http://blogs.iac.gatech.edu/yadystopia2017/2017/03/13/young-adults-and-the-appeal-of-dystopian-literature/

Session

9

YA Dystopian Fiction, Part 2

https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/v40n2/scholes.html

Session

10

YA Dystopian Fiction, Part 3

https://acs-schools.libguides.com › dystopias

Session

11

Building Utopia – Part Three (Execution)In class exercise

Session

12

Utopian Fiction, Part 1Reading(s) from The Utopia Reader, 2nd Edition
to be assigned later

Session

13

Utopian Fiction, Part 2Reading(s) from The Utopia Reader, 2nd Edition
to be assigned later 

Session

14

Class’s Choice of Topic

Material to be selected in advance, based on class preference

Session

15

Wrap up and Presentations of Our Utopias

Advanced readings, if any, to be sent out in advance

Session X

Make-up Day


    Specific sessions may change based on students' interests.


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