Utopias & Dystopias (ENG 2000: Perspectives in Literature)

active 11 months, 2 weeks ago
Utopias & Dystopias (ENG 2000: Perspectives in Literature)
This Course is OPEN.
Professor(s)
Department
English
Course Code
2000
Semester / Year
Spring 2014
Course Description

This course is an introduction to literature through the lens of “utopia,” or the desire for a different, better way of being. Through exploring short stories, novels, poetry, songs, advertisements, films, TV shows, the news, social media, and our own experiences, we will critically examine the blurry line between utopia & dystopia: when/how/why various utopian impulses (such as happiness, progress, technological advancement, efficiency, stability) that are intended to improve society can go (and have gone) terribly awry.

We will look at how thinkers have historically imagined some of the more frightening and perhaps unforeseen and unintended consequences of “utopia”, and then we will apply these fictional visions to the real-life contemporary world in which we live. We will ask ourselves the difficult (but unavoidable) questions that emerge from such a study: what are the values behind our actions? How do we conceive of/build for things such as happiness, progress, knowledge? How does our increasing dependence on science and technology (often viewed as utopian tools capable of leveling the playing field, sharing diverse ideas, bridging distances, and uniting people from different backgrounds/races/cultures) have the potential to transform into frightening methods of control, censorship, conformity, and isolation? Are our virtual connections/lives/memories displacing our sense of the “real”? Have we retained (and if so, can we continue to maintain) “humanity” in this “post-human” age of commodification, cybernetics, and catastrophe? Will the environment withstand our relentless abuse of it? Will people withstand our relentless abuse of one another? In our attempt to answer these questions (and others) throughout the semester, we will develop critical perspectives that are an integral part of becoming competent thinkers, readers, writers, and citizens of the world.

ENG 2000 Description: “Readings in and writings about literature across genres, eras and locales. Themes include family, the individual and society, good and evil, gender, faith, and “”the human heart in conflict with itself.”” Essays and exams based on readings.”

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