Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG484H1F  L0101   W11-1
Contemporary Dystopian Fiction
Professor Michael Johnstone

Brief Description of Course: This course will focus on how speculative fiction since the later 20th century has addressed the sociopolitical, environmental, technoscientific, and moral/ethical challenges humanity both faces and creates. We will consider the ways in which the dystopian futures (or, alternate presents) imagined by various novels serve fundamentally as warnings about the negative and troubling consequences or possibilities of current trends in the modern world, and thus also how such novels can be said to encourage or model a particular form of critical reading and questioning of the social and ideological norms of that modern world. Why are dystopian narratives some of the most compelling and important of our time?

Required Reading: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968); Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998); Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005); Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2015); Mandel, Station Eleven (2014); Robinson, New York 2140 (2017); selections of relevant theory/criticism (made available on Quercus).

NOTE: All novels will be available at Bakka Phoenix Books (84 Harbord Street, 416-963-9993).

First Three Authors/Texts: Dick, Hopkinson, Ishiguro.

Method of Instruction: Discussion, seminar.

Method of Evaluation: In-Class analysis (10%), working bibliography (20%), essay (45%), seminar (10%), participation (15%)..

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