Class notes

Class Notes


Utopia Projects 

Carla Grullon

.In what Factor of Dystopian Society does it correlate to our modern society?

.Xitally Nava

How government control plays in dystopian society


Claim ; I believe Utopias can’t possibly be achieved. On the contrary dystopia very much possible and all around us

Michelle Darko

Why Utopias are impossible


Reminder & Announcements

.Fill out Students elvaluation Form DUE TMM, 12/18/20

. Cuny is offering Credit/ No credit to students, check student email for more information.

. Final Course reflection, DUE Sunday 12/20/20

Happy Holidays, All the best !

Utopias=Hidden Dystopias


Utopias are impossible to achieve, while we are filled with the abundance of dystopias. Throughout the semester we have read many amazing pieces of literature. We have been introduced to multiple so-called utopias such as the ones in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” or Thomas More’s Utopia. As well as, we also deeply analyzed some dystopias in the likes of Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”. These instances have led me to believe that there are no such things as “utopias”, those worlds labelled as utopias are nothing else but disguised dystopias. I don’t think it is possible to create a perfect world. Dystopias are very much real as they show the rawness of humanity and civilizations with a lack of order.  

Utopias are always flawed which goes completely against the definition of the word developed by Thomas More. Most Utopias people seem to come up with are just hidden Utopias. As seen in my presentation “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” shows a society where you think everything is perfect until you learn about the greater sacrifice. Dystopias are also so much more constant both in the real world and the fictional world. We see the United States be classified as a modern day Utopia. In many ways it has many aspects that make it seem like a corrupted society. Technology also plays a huge role in violation of privacy nowadays. In conclusion, throughout my presentation I’m conveying how Utopias are not real and can’t possibly ever be close to one. Humans are complex, we are all different, we all want different things. So all humans will never be able to agree in key issues like politics or economics. Dystopias are just real. People are not strangers with struggle. This is something that won’t change. This is why there are many dystopias in literature and are always being discussed in the media outlets. 

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Class Notes: 12/15


  • Next class come early and prepare
  • Final Course reflection due 12/17
  • Drop your files in DropBox

Today’s presentations

Miguel: Utopia are Dystopia

  • Utopias are flawed concepts, Trying to please everyone, we are always changing.
  • The pattern of dystopian novels, hold “false utopias” that fail
  • Trying to solve societal issues, inequality, negative feelings, economy

Mathew: How dystopian literature warns us for the present

  •   Why do writers choose to write about dystopia?
  • What can be accomplished?
  • What do dystopian literature teach it’s readers?

Najia: Are we living in a dystopia?

  • Totalitarian Dystopia
  • Covid-19
  • Dystopia play in media

Citizens are afraid to rebel (dehumanized states)

Mariama: The use of drugs in authors writings

  • 1970 war on drugs inspired authors
  • Authors use psychedelic drugs.
  • Author Huxley experiment with drugs (Brave New World)
  • Examples of fictional drugs use in novels (soma, melange)

Rizwan: Why individuals continue to live in Dystopia?

  • What causes dystopia? poor leadership
  • Stanford Experiment was about two groups one was superior than the other, mentally affect the prisoners in believing they are.
  • Genocide ( Chinese government held captive muslims, praising the Chinese government)
  • In the middle east people aren’t able to leave, no knowledge, no funding

Nekell: Race and Discrimination

  • Thomas Moore introduces as an ideal society
  • Octavia Butler novel “Kindred”, incorporates time travel and going back to slavery. Dana main character meets her ancestors and is entangled with plantation.
  • Thomas More created the first modern version of an ideal society, giving his work the name that would stick for all such imaginings ever since, Utopia


Utopia Project


While reading and diving into different type of Utopian worlds, we pretty much discover that it’s really not what it seems. In a Utopian society everything is organized and “perfect” for the citizens, no one really has to plan for themselves because it has already been done for them. From being controlled politically, religiously, and sometimes even emotionally Utopias do the opposite of what it’s supposed to, instead they cripple people from being who they truly are. human. There is absolutely no way we can live in a world that can please everyone or have everyone become perfect. First of all, we are all created differently, we come from different backgrounds and believe in different things, so regardless who is being pleased at a certain moment, someone else will not be pleased and no one can obtain perfection . This is why Utopian society are impossible to create.

One reason why A utopian society cannot prosper is because, they go against every characteristic of a being a human being. Imperfection is a big part of being human, Utopian societies desires everyone to be perfect. Once Imperfection is removed from a human, they aren’t human anymore but they become robots. Many of the stories we read on Utopias usually describe’s the citizens as robots more than human. In the text Brave new world by Aldous Huxley, it is based on a caste system which includes five caste, and in each caste the people are programmed to fit into the caste that they belong to. In this utopia they have a cloning system called bokanovsk process whereby they would make copies of the egg to have identical twins. This process was important because this was the process, they would use to place the citizens in the case system in order to control the people and their lives. The people of this society could not really be who they are because they have already been predestined to become who the government wants them to be. When we read deeper into the text we start to see that some of the characters in the text couldn’t stay faithful to the programming of the society, they began to ‘’rebell” or exhibit their true human characters of “imperfections”.“utopias are especially vulnerable when a social theory based on collective ownership, communal work, authoritarian rule, and a command-and-control economy collides with our natural-born desire for autonomy, individual freedom, and choice”( The Weeks ) .

Cover letter

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The Use Of Fictional Drugs In Science Fiction

Fictional drugs have been used in many science fiction literatures. The usage of drugs helps show some of the realities that the characters in the novels were trying to escape. People use drugs as a way for them to forget what is happening in their lives. For example, many people don’t want to deal with the realities so they turn to drugs to make them forget because they want to be happy all the time. For example, Huxley uses soma as a drug that makes the people in the world state feel happy all of the time and make them forget about all other problems. In Dune the drug melange lengthens people’s lifespan.

Some of the findings during the research were the reasons why authors would want to use drugs in their writings. The author creates societal paste, present, and future through the usage of drugs. The War on Drugs has been present in America for so long. In the 1970s Nixon declared war on drugs because of the heavy use of crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. The rapidly use of drugs lead to high rate disease such as Aids/HIV.  Next, high incarceration especially in the black communities. These events help the author to tell the story of the society because it recreates the society they want to vision.  For example “ Brave New World” created this perfect society where everybody was controlled by drugs and it has no stigma attached to it. They also write about how the future looks like, drug will be a big part of society,  rather than medical or non-medical.                                                                                                                                                                                                

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Thomas More’s Utopia became more than just a figment of his imagination. His vision of an ideal society although not ideal to everyone has survived hundreds of years and continues to be used as a tool to discuss an infinite number of possible utopias. An entire division of research and studies are based on his vision. Faitima Vieira in a special edition of the Journal of Utopian Studies highlights Lynman Sargent thoughts on the building upon the field of study “The creation of the Society for Utopian Studies, in 1975, and of the Utopian Studies journal, in 1990, provided North American scholars with a floor for the discussion of questions pertinent to the field of utopian studies, and they have thus contributed to the shaping of the field. (Vieira, p2) Today Utopian Studies is an expansive field of research studied globally and includes all forms of media and modes of communication. More’s ideas of what is ideal and acceptable may have more significant implications as his perfect society embraced slavery. Discrimination was framed as acceptable and expected for those less fortunate.

A theme that appears within the Utopia and Dystopia literature is that of discrimination and it’s what role it plays in that fictional society. As a reader connecting elements from the materials I read I compare them to past and current events and circumstances within society today. It is clear that discrimination whether it’s gender based or focused on race always seems to a pivotal factor in the storyline. In attending the New York College of Technology Science Fiction Symposium held virtually this year , it theme being race . It’s speakers discussed how characters in Utopian and Dystopian fiction were described as not being quite human. Characters were either victims of slaves or hybrids not quite worthy of being considered a living being. It sounded to me to be a new way to discriminate in addition to either race or gender. I found it interesting how bias in regard to race , gender or just being deemed unworthy were prevalent in this genre. I intend to explore the role of this theme in Utopian and Dystopian literature.

When thinking of what Is considered “Art” the definition can be expanded into a million directions. Dance, and painting are just a few ways we can express ourselves. Literature is another one. We can express our thoughts and creativity through any medium, but for many literature is their choice. For many they express their preference through whatever genre they choose to read and for others it’s what genre they choose to write. Science fiction and It’s connection to Utopian and Dystopian ideals have intermingled over many years and often reflect the events of that time. Peter Fitting in “A Short History of Utopian Studies.” suggest Utopian studies like Utopia itself found a new life with the revival of Utopian writing was in many ways made possible by science fiction, for as non imagined worlds and futures, science fiction provided a way to imagine and describe alternatives to an inadequate present.

For many Utopian and Dystopian fiction i a way to express an ideal world or a hellish one. Interpretation of art like many other things is a matter of perspective. Based on their perspective a writer can choose to celebrate or suppress its characters based on various factors, gender could be one and race is definitely another. Like many things in our society Utopian and Dystopian literature can represent the perspective of someone who is white.

This perspective can appear to drive themes that reflect the hellish historical background for people of color and suppress or diminish the importance of racial injustice within a text. These thoughts are discussed in “The Future of Racial Classifications: Exploring Race in the Critical Dystopia.” by Meghan Hartnett. Hartnett writes “science fiction as a genre has been dominated by white male writers, it is no surprise that racial distinctions have ultimately been ignored or made insignificant in their texts. In these futures where race no longer holds hierarchical significance, racial minorities become irrelevant.” (Hartnett 3) The privileged perspective of an author who is white could be seen in how race is depicted and how much respect and weight it is given in the text. This is supported by Hartnett “It is necessary to criticize the science fiction genre for its erasure of racial classifications and racism because it is true that the subject of race is too deeply engrained in American society and culture to be overlooked. Racial classifications, and the hierarchies which result, have caused centuries of oppression, violence, and hatred in America and throughout the world; to simply eliminate their existence and imagine a world that transcends race is naïve and unimaginable.”(Hartnett)

Many authors explore how race plays a role in society and how it reflects history and the lives of people of color. This is not necessarily easy for black authors in a society traditionally driven negatively by race. In “African Literature and the World System: Dystopian Fiction, Collective Experience, and the Postcolonial Condition” by M. Keith Booker reflects on race and the difficulty in dystopian fiction. Booker writes “The difficulties faced by African writers of dystopian fiction are representative of those faced by African novelists in general, who must often strain against the generic characteristics of the fundamentally bourgeois form within which they write”(Booker 58). The historical racial dynamics that set the expectations of Utopian and Dystopian fiction and literature in general for that matter were challenged by writers that didn’t fit the traditional definition of an author. Octavia Butler was just such an author. Her ability to expand on her ideas regarding race and gender were considered unconventional even under science fiction standards. In the publication “ Necessary Interventions in theFace of Very Curious Compulsions “Octavia Butler’s Naturalist Science Fiction by Mary E. Papke the sociopolitical aspects of Octavia Butlers’ writing reflecting Butlers’ thoughts. “readers and critics are masterfully adept in misunderstanding her work by reading into it what they want and thus, ironically, rendering it know able and therefore safe. That is, critics fail to recognize the basic questions raised by her fiction when they allow issues of race or gender to trump consideration of issues of symbiosis, interdependence, and interrelation ality, and they therefore miss her call for dialectical thinking in order to stave off imminent cataclysm.”( Papke 81)

African American authors like Octavia Butler have tested the previously established parameters set by white male authors of Utopian and Dystopian literature by incorporating plots that revolve around interracial relationships and slavery from the perspective of the black character. In “Kindred” Butler’s depiction of the life changing and life threatening challenges the main characters Dana faces depicts the horrible legacy of slavery and racism. This is done through the obstacles faced in her interracial marriage in the seventies and her time travel back in time into a life of slavery in the 1800’s and how the legacy of slavery lives is manifested in black people today.

Systemic racism that permeates all levels of society is also woven into the subconscious of its’ people. So much so that the slightest implication of of a mixed race relationship can spur a negative reaction. Isaiah Lavender references this on how a modern day television script indicating that a black man would be able to direct the actions taken by a white woman such inferences was nearly cancelled due to in his estimation “an inherent yet unconscious audience discomfort caused by the perceived taboo of miscegenation or race mixing .” (Lavender 3). Even under the umbrella of science fiction on television intermingling is not allowed.

Papke, Mary E. “Necessary Interventions in the Face of Very Curious Compulsions: Octavia Butler’s Naturalist Science Fiction.” Studies in American Naturalism, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013, pp. 79–92. JSTOR, Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Booker, M. Keith. “African Literature and the World System: Dystopian Fiction, Collective Experience, and the Postcolonial Condition.” Research in African Literatures, vol. 26, no. 4, 1995, pp. 58–75. JSTOR, Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Hartnett, Meghan. (2018). The Future of Racial Classifications: Exploring Race in the Critical Dystopia. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 283. Available at:

Fitting, Peter. “A Short History of Utopian Studies.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 2009, pp. 121–131. JSTOR, Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.

LavenderIII, Isiah. Race in American Science Fiction. Indiana University Press, 2011. Project MUSE

Vieira, Fátima. “Introduction to the Special Issue.” Utopian Studies, vol. 27, no. 2, 2016, pp. 193–196. JSTOR, Accessed 15 Dec. 2020.

Cover Letter

Dear Professor Belli and readers,

The majority of the time I try to be politically correct and conservative about sharing my feelings on a particular issue but on this rare occasion I will disclose my thoughts in regard to this project. I have found it extremely difficult to not only research this topic but challenging to complete based on the amount of work required for this assignment and other work that is due in this and other classes.
In reviewing research materials it was difficult and time consuming to isolate an idea from the materials to support my point. I decided to highlight discrimination and race as the topics for my presentation. There are many topics that were present in the different stories we read throughout the semester and many of those topics relate to our society but none like race and discrimination. The subject of discrimination and race takes different forms. Color may not be specified in some cases and at times not even gender but the text clearly depicts the bias by the characters. I referenced Octavia Butlers work in addition to Thomas More’s influence on the topic and tried to connect to an example within modern media in the power point presentation.



One persons’ Utopia could be a Dystopia for another. Utopia can mean a variety of things to many people. Acorn represented a utopia to Lauren in “Parable of the Sower”. For Thomas More his Utopia included slaves in each home. It would be fair to argue that the lives of those slaves would be far from ideal. In participating in this course I have had the opportunity to revisit some authors and discover completely new ones.
In doing so the topic of race or discrimination was addressed in every text to some extent. In highlighting some of the circumstances under which race or discrimination was mentioned I could find a reference to an event in present day society. It is clear that Utopian and Dystopian literature is a fair depiction of the unfair past and present we currently endure.

In What Factors of a Dystopian Society does it Correlate to our Modern Society.


Carla Grullon 




           Throughout the theme of Utopias and Dystopia literature there is a feeling of the loss of free will. That even in the most perfect Utopia society they have rules and standards for everyone in society that everyone must follow. In today’s society there are many examples of dystopias across the world that are affecting the lives of men, women and children. It is clear that in modern day society things are not being changed for the better and certain governments are still stuck on old ideals. In this generation in time there is a new modern world that has been established throughout certain areas across the world.  Throughout my project It will be discussing how Dystopian  societies can be related to certain countries that lack change in government which is affecting their economy and civilians. 

     Dystopias and Utopias are very different from each other and a Utopia can easily fall into a Dystopia. A Utopia is an imaginary world where everything and everyone is perfect and society is filled with advanced technology. A Dystopia is a society in which everything seems to be perfect but everyone and everything is far from it. A perfect world can turn into a dystopia due to political, economic and science/ technical changes in society. In Brave New World everyone was for everyone and no one had the right to express their true feelings towards someone they loved. They are taught to not feel and to ignore any human emotion making them heartless. Meaning that they were being stripped from their right to feel. In our modern day society people from foreign countries are not given equal rights and still face corrupt governments. While writing and researching sources for my project I have learned that the world we live in is not perfect. That there are many other individuals across the world that still live in realities that we once fought to get out of. The main issue at stake is how the economy of those countries will be in the future if changes are not made. Dystopian societies could be in development. 


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Utopian Dystopias

Utopia Project: Abstract

Throughout our various readings this semester, a solid connection brought them all together. The idea of trying to make a utopia ultimately led the societies within all these readings to be made. Furthermore, these same utopian concepts proved to be deeply flawed and fell through execution into dystopian infamy. This now brings up the central question: “Why are so many dystopian societies often failed utopias?”

To find out: we will also be answering the following questions:

“When does the need for a utopia arise?”

To understand the flaws of a utopia, we need to know the background of it all. Utopias often come from a desire for a massive reform or change following deeply rooted issues or conflicts. It is a romanticized society where these conflicts or issues are solved to every single person’s unanimous agreement. Nobody disagrees and all is for the better.

“How are utopias flawed?”

Life is just not that easy. Utopias are heavily opinionated in nature and everyone has their own individual opinion as to what their utopia should be and how it should function. Furthermore, it is impossible to make everyone happy when everyone has differences in various beliefs, philosophies, priorities, and dislikes. What may be a utopia for one person may be absolute hell for another.

“When does a Utopia become a Dystopia?”

When a heavily opinionated idea that is a utopia is enforced upon every person and is set in stone without compromise, you have a dystopia. People are being forced to accept this against their will and wishes. This is corruption and power over democracy. Decisions and laws are made for people without the ability to argue or protest with the argument of it being “for the greater good”. It is all one opinion on perfectionism that is forced on everyone.

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