Feb 02, 2023  
2023 January Term Course Catalog 
2023 January Term Course Catalog
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JAN 112 - Nightmare Futures

Upper division
Full credit
MTuThF, 12:00 PM - 2:35 PM

“I don’t try to predict the future. I try to prevent it.” – Ray Bradbury 

Since time immemorial people must have been dreaming of the ideal or just society– or even simply a /better /society. In 1516 an Englishman named Thomas More gave a name to that vision of an ideal or just society–“Utopia”–and the name stuck.  In Greek Utopia means “No-Place” and, by virtue 
of a pun, “Good-Place.” 

 It was left to the twentieth century to translate utopian principles into reality in a really grand way and then to discover their unintended consequences. As Tom Wolfe has observed, the twentieth century was the great age of utopian impulses, with one utopian scheme after another being attempted, each one trying to “go back to zero,” to begin again, and to remake humankind. 
Our central concern in this course will be the response in fiction to the twentieth century’s utopian urge. Science fiction works by projecting trends into the future or imagining possibilities realized in the future. But the part of science fiction that is called “dystopian” follows Ray Bradbury’s formula:  it “predicts” 
what it would really like to “prevent.”  “Dystopias” are “Bad-Places,” bad futures that seem to be implied by current trends.  “Anti-Utopias,” a subset of Dystopias, are supposed utopias which turn out to be, in practice, “Bad-Places,” the evil and oppressive consequences of someone else’s utopian dream. 
We will read and assess a series of nightmare fictions against the backdrop of the nightmarish realities of the twentieth century. 

Reading List:
Thomas More, Utopia 
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Fritz Lang, Metropolis [film] 
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Instructor(s): Robert Gorsch
Email:  rgorsch@stmarys-ca.edu

Prerequisites & Notes
Prerequisites:  ENG 4 and ENG 5/108, SEM 001/102
Course Fee:  10

Credits: 1

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