FYS 126 Literature of the Fantastic: Dystopian Worlds

Gillian Kendall, T Th 9:00 AM-10:20 AM

Whether it’s a seemingly familiar England where children are being raised for their organs (Never Let Me Go), or Panem (The Hunger Games), where children fight to the death, dystopian fantasies provide a window into our own world.  These dystopias, perversions of the ideal world of the utopia (yet aren’t utopias themselves always a little suspect?), break down categories we usually visualize as discrete:  humans become sources of organs or food; androids seem human, and colors and music cease to be categories at all.  But in all of the books we will look at, however uncanny they are, the traumatic secrets at the center of the dystopia lay bare what it means to be a human being.  We will be examining texts from Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World (or Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven) to The Giver, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, or The Hunger Games.  Note:  books to be considered are liable to change.  There are many fascinating dystopian worlds to explore. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students.