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ENGLISH 319C: Utopian Realism and the Global South

What is Utopia and why does it generate so many different versions of itself, including, most powerfully, negations of itself as dystopia? As a vision of human perfectibility, Utopian literature has from its inception in Thomas More's Utopia (1517) been concerned with the social nature of humanity. It is always therefore political in nature. Almost exactly contemporaneous with the defining moments of the modern era (the conquest of the Americas, Machiavelli and modern politics, the emergence of modern literature in Cervantes, Luther and modern consciousness, printing and the beginning of the modern public sphere), Utopia is also unavoidably a product of the literary and imaginary worlds. Concerned with the development of Utopian and anti-Utopian thinking in the modern world, we will see how issues of science and technology, race and sexuality, freedom and determination, and salvation and apocalypse are embedded in the history of utopian literature and contemporary science fiction. Why more »
What is Utopia and why does it generate so many different versions of itself, including, most powerfully, negations of itself as dystopia? As a vision of human perfectibility, Utopian literature has from its inception in Thomas More's Utopia (1517) been concerned with the social nature of humanity. It is always therefore political in nature. Almost exactly contemporaneous with the defining moments of the modern era (the conquest of the Americas, Machiavelli and modern politics, the emergence of modern literature in Cervantes, Luther and modern consciousness, printing and the beginning of the modern public sphere), Utopia is also unavoidably a product of the literary and imaginary worlds. Concerned with the development of Utopian and anti-Utopian thinking in the modern world, we will see how issues of science and technology, race and sexuality, freedom and determination, and salvation and apocalypse are embedded in the history of utopian literature and contemporary science fiction. Why did the modern world develop as it did? Can we imagine alternative worlds and histories? As future-oriented thinking, how does utopian literature offer possibilities for a better life? As a forum for future thinking Utopia also offers a platform for thinking anew the working of race and racial formations as well as constructions of gender in the contexts of what has been called "the Subject of Utopia." This course addresses the poetics and generative power of classic Utopian forms to examine how differing aesthetics as well as differing conceptions of history are linked fundamentally to the possibility of reshaping conceptions of race and gender in sustainable future orientations. Concerned with understanding how the traditional forms of the novel are altered in the context of the contemporary drive to represent a new stage in global and hemispheric race relations as well as by the forces of global climate change and the imperatives of decolonization, our readings will investigate how contemporary versions of literary realism change to represent the experiences of the crises of our time and the need to imagine alternative futures.
Terms: Win | Units: 5
Instructors: Saldivar, R. (PI)
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