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DHUM 1380A - Dystopia : Dark Political Visions in the Arts, the Art of Doomsday Prophecy

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This transdisciplinary class deals with dystopian visions in literature, painting, film, television and political discourse both past and present. The course will successively cover the main themes and concerns of these various ‘schools' of dystopia—including far-right and far-left politics, populism and demagoguery, fear of new technologies, fear of government censorship, dark anti-feminist visions of the future, fear of the growing need for conformity and political correctness, fear of growing crime and violence, etc. As Erika Gottlieb has recently pointed out, Utopian and Dystopian art is often incorrectly regarded as a purely Western phenomenon. However, this class will seek to open up that vision of dystopian art to include key names from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. In addition, student projects will further expand the scope of the class into other cultures. For in-class presentations, four students will be given a general theme related to dystopia and asked to present four works on that theme from various cultures and countries of origin (a work of literature, a painting, a film or television series and a current political debate), carefully drawing a connection between them. (See syllabus for full presentation).


TREDY, Dennis (Maître de conférences des universités)

Course validation

Grading is based on Continuous Assessment and breaks down as follows: Class Participation: 10% 30-minute In-Class Presentation: 30% Comprehensive Final Exam: 35% One Written Homework Assignment: 25%

Required reading

  • -Eugene Zamyatin's We (1924) or Ayn Rand's Anthem (1936)
  • -Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) and Vonnegut's Player Piano (1952)
  • P.D. James's The Children of Men (1992) and Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006)
  • -Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

Additional required reading

  • Students are encouraged to watch and discuss films and series dealing with dystopia, but these are only suggestions.
  • (For example, films such as Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men (2006), John Hillcoat's The Road (2009), Michael Radford's 1984 (1984), or the series Black Mirror on Netflix or The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu).
  • A more complete syllabus, with suggested readings and films, will be given in class.