Dystopian Fiction and Unsettled Space


Wed 10am - 12pm


S. Radovic

Course Description

This course explores the topographies of contemporary dystopian fiction. Along with the subgenres such as the post-apocalyptic and “the new weird,” dystopian fiction offers alternative narratives of the existing social order, imagines the consequences of environmental degradation, revises the norms of individual and communal identity, and re-situates the categories of race and gender. Despite its profound investment in re-conceptualisations of time and history, dystopian fiction offers critically engaging and deliberately distorted visions of social space and narrative setting. In this course, our primary concern will be with spatial imagination in the context of this genre. Challenging readers’ expectations about the meaning of private property, domestic comfort, and grounded identity, the novels we are reading will propose a radically unsettled vision of present and future worlds.

Course Texts

Fiction: Octavia Butler Kindred; Jeff VanderMeer Veniss Underground; China Miéville Perdido Street Station; Margaret Atwood The Handmade’s Tale; J.G. Ballard The Drought; Ursula K. Le Guin The Dispossessed.

Theoretical readings: Fredric Jameson Archeologies of the Future, Darko Suvin Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulation, Paul Virilio The Original Accident, Donna Haraway “A Cyborg Manifesto”; Michel Foucault “Of Other Spaces”; Gil Doron “Heterotopia and the ‘dead zone’”; Sigmund Freud “The Uncanny”; Mike Davis Ecology of Fear

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements

  • Participation (15%)
  • Class Facilitation (15%)
  • Essay Prospectus (20%)
  • Final Essay (50%)

Term: S-TERM (January 2023 to April 2023)Date/Time: Wednesday / 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
Delivery: In-Person