Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Nightmares
Winter 2019 quarter
Sometimes we dream of a perfect social world; sometimes we imagine a nightmarish and miserable social order. And sometimes, what one person regards as a perfect society is regarded by others as perfectly horrifying. In this program, we will delve into both fictional and philosophical treatments of utopias and dystopias. Our philosophical texts will be drawn from such works as Plato’s Republic , Hobbes’ Leviathan , Locke’s Second Treatise of Government , Rawls’ A Theory ofJustice , and Mills’ The Racial Contract . Literary works will likely include Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 , Huxley’s Brave New World , and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, along with lesser-known works like H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia. Through these readings, we will explore the values that such visions of society embody, and what they may tell us about what to seek or avoid in our social interactions. In addition, we will consider what these utopian and dystopian visions may reveal to us about our own hopes, fears, desires, and motivations. This program will also provide students with guidance and support in developing their skills as readers, writers, and critical thinkers.
Fields of Studyliterature philosophy writing
humanities, literature, and philosophy.
Location and Schedule