English 40-2 - Spring, 2022

Introductory Topics in Literature


Class Information

Instructor: Duvall, Margaret
CRN: 42013
Time: MWF 1:10-2:00
Location: 1342 Storer
GE Areas: Writing Experience


Some of the most popular media of our time--Squid Game, Handmaid's Tale, Hunger Games--envisions dystopian worlds, reflecting our cultural anxieties about class inequality, climate crisis, and fascism. In this course, we will explore the history of literary visions of hope, centered around the theoretical concept of utopia. How have authors thought about the "perfect society" over the last 150 years? How do race, class, gender, and sexuality affect the way authors shape their desired worlds?

We will read excerpts from a wide variety of authors, from Pauline Hopkins' 1903 vision of an ancient Ethiopian city, to Ernest Callenbach's 1975 novel about an environmentalist paradise in the Pacific Northwest. We will compare genres of utopian thought as well, including essays, manifestos, novels, art, and activism. Through the course, we will be guided by theorists who see dreaming and imagination as a deeply political act: Theodor Adorno, Avery Gordon, Robin D. G. Kelley, Grace Dillon, and Frederic Jameson. Together, we will write our own literary versions of utopia and think how to build joy, compassion, and care in our collective future.