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Dystopian Fiction | 2023

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Dystopian fiction comes in all shapes and sizes. Yes, The Hunger Games may be the most familiar these days, but there are other, more subtle examples of this genre as well.

  • Why is there such a huge market for dystopian stories?


  • What draws us to them?


The first dystopian fiction was published in the 1920s, and the audience for these stories has not declined.

 

This fall, we will analyze how this genre speculates about future societies and reflects the fears and anxieties of the cultural context from which they emerge. We will explore the characteristics and common tropes associated with dystopian literature, focusing on the inevitable undoing of a planned utopia--and the dark outcome that results.

Class Details

  • Dystopian Fiction is a 1-semester FALL 2023 class.​

  • Tuition: $375

  • Instructor: Marcy Swisher

  • Dates: August 29 to December 8, 2023​. See our FAQ for a complete list of days, times, and breaks.

  • Weekly Live Class: Tuesday 12-1:00 p.m. Eastern

  • Grade level: 10th-12th (15+)

  • Class size: 10

  • Course materials are listed below.

  • Format: Zoom and an online classroom.

    • A reliable internet connection and a webcam with a microphone will be needed.

    • Students should plan to attend live classes, keep their webcams on, and participate.

What to Expect

This class is for students who are eager to devote time to reading page-turning novels and short stories. They will be reading 100+ pages a week, and in our class discussions, will examine how identities and ideas are formed by exploring and analyzing a variety of texts.

 

Students will formulate arguments about why literature matters in terms of form, aesthetics, and knowledge production. and they will grow in their appreciation of how literature provides insights into human experiences.

Through novels and short stories, we will explore topics such as:

  • utopia/dystopia

  • totalitarian government

  • consumerism

  • conformity and rebellion

  • the surveillance state

  • technological advancements

 

Reading and discussing literature can help students adapt to change and improve their communication skills. It can elicit creativity and innovation as well as foster critical thinking and ethical reasoning.​ We will employ techniques in our discussions that will help the class gain the most from our reading without simply reading to answer questions.


The class will be reading these novels:

Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro

Our Missing Hearts | Celeste Ng

The Giver | Lois Lowry

 

And short selections from authors such as:

Ray Bradbury

Ted Chiang

E.M. Forster

Usula le Guin

Yann Martel

Nnedi Okorafor

Kurt Vonnegut

This will be a very active and fun class with lots of participation encouraged and expected--both in the live classes and in online text-based discussion forums. Grades will be determined by class discussion, mini projects, and a final semester project.

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