TTC Video - Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature Course No. 2341 | .MP4, AVC, 700 kbps, 856x480 | English, AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.28 GB Lecturer: Pamela Bedore, Ph.D.
Can literature change our real world society? At its foundation, utopian and dystopian fiction asks a few seemingly simple questions aimed at doing just that. Who are we as a society? Who do we want to be? Who are we afraid we might become? When these questions are framed in the speculative versions of Heaven and Hell on earth, you won't find easy answers, but you will find tremendously insightful and often entertaining perspectives.
Utopian and dystopian writing sits at the crossroads of literature and other important academic disciplines such as philosophy, history, psychology, politics, and sociology It serves as a useful tool to discuss our present condition and future prospects-to imagine a better tomorrow and warn of dangerous possibilities. To examine the future of mankind through detailed and fascinating stories that highlight and exploit our anxieties in adventurous, thought-provoking, and engaging ways. From Thomas More's foundational text Utopia published in 1516to the 21st-century phenomenon of The Hunger Games, dive into stories that seek to find the best-and the worst-in humanity, with the hope of better understanding ourselves and the world. Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature delivers 24 illuminating lectures, led by Pamela Bedore, Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, which plunge you into the history and development of utopian ideas and their dystopian counterparts. You'll encounter some of the most powerful and influential texts in this genre as you travel centuries into the past and thousands of years into the future, through worlds that are beautiful, laughable, terrifying, and always thought-provoking.
Professor Bedore brings an acute understanding of literature's ability to both reflect and shape society, as well as an immense enthusiasm for great storytelling, introducing you to fresh perspectives on deep-rooted themes you thought you knew. She will take you on an expedition through a variety of idealized utopian and flawed dystopian worlds, embarking across a broad survey of the differing perspectives and historical backdrops that shaped the genre, from the influence of scientific optimism in the 17th century and satire in the 18th to deeply political and sociological approaches in the 19th and 20th centuries and beyond. Even if you are familiar with these writers, this course provides so many deep insight and alternative perspectives, it will be as if you are reading them for the first time. Uncover the darkness behind seeming utopias and discover the hope that lives beneath the terror of dystopias as you deep dive into classics, blockbusters, and little known gems by:
Jonathan Swift Louisa May Alcott Samuel Butler Ursula K. Le Guin Edward Bellamy H.G. Wells Samuel Delany George Orwell Octavia Butler Anthony Burgess Margaret Atwood And many more
With Professor Bedore, you'll follow these authors and more as they explore the limits of how humans live together, build societies, and view our own humanity.
The Heavenly Places of Utopia
Professor Bedore begins her study of utopian and dystopian storytelling with a look at utopia, the earlier of the two genres to be widely recognized. Utopia, both as a word and a concept, is a paradox. As she notes, the word "utopia" means "no place," but it is also a homonym for eutopia-a good or perfect place. This contradiction is the foundation on which the genre is built and why it provides such rich opportunities for exploration. Can we invent a perfect place if it is also no place?
Starting with the book most often credited as the beginning of the utopian genre, Thomas More's Concerning the Highest State of the Republic and the New Island Utopia, Professor Bedore moves chronologically through history. She examines how humor was introduced into utopian literature with Jonathan Swift, reveals how utopian concepts were used to market the idea of the American Dream, and explores the intersection between utopian stories and science fiction. Lastly, Professor Bedore looks at alternative and selective approaches to creating utopias, such as that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who tells the story of a world populated only by women.
As you travel through time and across various lands, you'll discover classic and contemporary authors, novels, and short stories that have critiqued, educated, and ultimately contributed to impacting the world as we know it.
The Hellish Nightmares of Dystopia
The Hunger Games. Divergent. The Giver. The Maze Runner. The City of Ember. In recent years, much has been made of the terms "dystopian literature," specifically in relation to Young Adult literature. The modern generation misleads itself by assuming that the dystopian novels which are popping up left and right were created simply for them. At the same time, the older generations does this fascinating classification of books a disservice if they believe the young adult selection chronicles the entire genre.
First used in public by John Stuart Mill in a speech in 1868, the term "dystopia" has often been understood to be the opposite of utopia. If one is an idealized version of society, wouldn't the other be its the nightmare alternative? Professor Bedore demonstrates how the truth-that utopia and dystopia are both based on the same impulses through different means-is less counterintuitive than it first appears.
The turn of the 20th century saw the beginning of the transition in thought from utopian visions to dystopian. Was this merely a reflection of modern cynicism, or are there deeper reasons that we turn to darker visions of the future? Professor Bedore dives deep into our fascination with worst case scenario stories, exploring many of the political and social forces that brought dystopian anxieties to the surface of literature. She reviews the impact of historical milestones such as:
Globalization and political strife: the wars of the 20th century have been particularly impactful thanks to global scale and the technologies of modern warfare Rapid industrialization: the loss of traditional and agricultural jobs and increasing urbanization have led to rapid change and precarious quality of life for many Increasing reliance on technology: the increasing automation of modern life has displaced workers and led to speculation about the increasing influence of "intelligent" machines Democratization of literature: dime novels, penny dreadfuls, and other popular entertainments have often focused on the sensational and the lurid-elements much more familiar to dystopia than utopia
Professor Bedore will introduce you to the "Big Three Dystopias" of the 20th century-Yevgeny Zamyatin's We (1921), Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) and George Orwelll's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) in a whole new light. She will dissect how each one reflects the tensions and anxieties of the modern world and trace their influence through later writers like Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Samuel R. Delaney, and many more.
Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Utopian and dystopian novels transport us to other worlds, but as this course will point out, those utopias and dystopias are often the same speculative world. Many of the portrayals of the future being depicted in current films and books including The Hunger Games, Elysium, and 3% present a push-me, pull-me worldview, with an elite set of haves and a distinct set of have-nots.
As Professor Bedore explores, one of the key elements of dystopia-and by extension, utopia-is the balance of different social and cultural needs; utopias are an attempt to create harmony between the needs and desires of people and dystopias are often the result of drastic imbalances. However, it's not the only balancing act that utopian and dystopian novels tackle. The most powerful and enduring works covered in this course are often the result of examining particular tensions and contrasts like:
Freedom vs. security- what is the ideal balance between being safe and being free? Chaos vs. conformity- how much structure is necessary for a "good" society? Kinetic vs. static- do people crave change and rapid growth or comfortable predictability? Intellectual vs. visceral- are the greater joys in life the ones of the mind or of the body?
In a world with limited resources, these equilibria are not easy to maintain in perfection, which means a utopia for some often results in dystopia for others.
Visions of the Past and Future
Utopian and dystopian literature is considered "speculative fiction," which also includes the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Likewise, utopia and dystopia are also broad categories themselves that contain many subgenres with differing ideologies and techniques: feminist utopia, cyberpunk dystopia, heterotopia, apocalyptic lit and many more.
Among the various subcategories presented by Professor Bedore is a particularly useful one known as "euchronia," a utopia that is set in a different time rather than a different place. Euchronias are usually set in the "real world" but also in a different time, anywhere from a few generations to several hundreds of thousands of years forward or backward. Euchronias are often a more direct way for authors to critique their own society-seeking to transport readers to extreme, alternative realities. Euchronias are exemplified by works like H.G. Well's The Time Machine, set over 700,000 years in the future, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, which occurs just a little over 100 years into the future (from its original date of 1887), or Ursula K. LeGuin'sHainish Cycle novels set in an alternate history and future throughout the series. These stories are fascinating not just in their speculation about the future or the past, but also in their ambivalent view of progress. They present complicated worlds that are both utopic and dystopic depending on the perspective-an important thread that runs throughout the utopian and dystopian traditions.
Whether you'd rather escape to an idealized world or explore the depths of the human condition, you'll get the best of both worlds through this fascinating scope. Under the brilliant command of Professor Bedore, you'll understand the motivations of these subversive worlds, the basis for these memorable characters, and how the body of literature has fueled lasting change. Open your imagination, suspend your disbelief, and take a provocative adventure through the great works of utopian and dystopian literature.