Utopias Module: Essays

Science Fiction Studies MA

Utopias Module: Essays
* Assigned by Mr Andy Sawyer

1. "Dystopia is a warning about the present rather than a prophecy of the future." Discuss.

2. "The revival [of utopian writing in the 60s and 70s] was actually a transformation which involved the destruction of utopian writing as well as its preservation." (Tom Moylan) How far is this true of the feminist utopias of the period?

3. With reference to at least two novels, discuss how far science fiction is intrinsically utopian and/or how far utopian literature is intrinsically science-fictional.
My own essay:

4. Examine the manner in which utopian fictions such as News From Nowhere and Brave New World (or any other examples) are responses to earlier novels in the genre.

5. "Concerned with the current moment of history but [representing] the moment in an estranged manner" (Tom Moylan). How far would you agree that this is a workable definition of utopian/dystopian literature.

6. "Utopia is that unconquered power of the imagination which resists the closure of ideology." Do you agree? Discuss with reference to at least two sf texts.

7. How far do utopian/dystopian fictions offer themselves open to multiple readings? How do some of the works you have studied operate in this manner?

8. "The very act of creating an imaginary world is utopian." How far would you agree? Is it true of the science fiction you have read?

9. Examine the ways in which any two writers construct a fantastic or remote society to perform a specifically feminist critique of our present conditions and assumptions.

10. How do the technological and pastoral strands combine and interact in utopian fictions?

11. How do writers of utopian fiction deal with aspects of their society they are unwilling or unable to show us?

12. How far does utopian fiction represent a desire for escape rather than active engagement to change society?

13. What does the subtitle "An ambiguous utopia" in The Dispossessed mean? How far is Le Guin successful in portraying this concept?

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