In Dark Times: The Dystopian Imagination in Literature and Film
This CWiC course will offer a guided introduction to the one of the most resilient genres of the human imagination: dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. Like a group of survivors huddled around a campfire, we will turn to literature and cinema to debate some of the big questions about the future of science, technology, religion, and capitalism. This course is designed as a Critical Speaking Seminar, and the majority of class assignments will be devoted to oral presentations: including a Parliamentary-style debate and a video essay. We will begin by reading some of the early, influential works in the dystopian genre by authors like Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, and Aldous Huxley. Next, we will explore the paranoid, schizophrenic world of Cold-War-era dystopias by J.G Ballard, Philip K. Dick and Octavia Butler. We will conclude by reading contemporary climate fiction by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Kim Stanley Robinson. Alongside the literary material, we will also track the changing nature of dystopian cinema— from classics like Metropolis (1927) and La Jetée (1962) to the latest Zombie film. By the end of course, students will have a firm grasp of the history of the genre and will be able to draw on this knowledge to effectively debate issues related to privacy, big business, animal rights, climate change, migration etc.