Open to Gallatin first-year students only.
Due to recent political events stemming from the rise of populism across the globe, dystopian literature from George Orwell’s 1984 to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale have been flying off the shelves. But what about the utopian literature on which they are based? This research seminar traces the path from ancient to contemporary utopias to explore these paradise spaces and the dystopic elements within them. How do we define a utopia? What can utopian literature tell us about time and place? How ideal are these “ideal” spaces, particularly if a utopia is marked by exclusion? How are legacies of empire treated in utopian literature? How can we analyze utopias through the lenses of history, feminism, queer theory, or the place of race, religion, or personal identity? Readings may include selections from Plato's Republic , Virgil’s Eclogues, Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies , Thomas More's Utopia, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost ; as well as Shakespeare's As You Like It , Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (yes, as a utopia!), Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem . We may end the semester with a look at film—such as Wall-E —to explore how utopian ideas are represented cinematically, as well.
First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)