Learning Recommendations: Students considering this course should enjoy reading and analyzing fictional texts, engage in critical thinking, be able to write a fluent thesis-driven essay, and be motivated to participate daily in large and small group discussions.

Description: This course provides a survey of dystopian, or apocalyptic, literature. Students will analyze, compare/contrast and write about environmental and social dystopian fiction; all required texts explore social and political choices made by individuals and cultures that create a nightmarish world. These narratives serve as warnings against governmental tyranny. While classic dystopian novels and modern dystopian films contain sobering events and themes, reading about a future that’s negative acknowledges people are capable of doing awful things--meaning dystopian novels are ironically honest. Students will read and/or watch both environmental and political dystopian novels in the genres of speculative fiction and science fiction.

Content: Required novels include Zamyatin’s We (1921), Huxley’s Brave New World (1931), and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Book club novel options provide choice in our last unit—students can choose from Orwell’s 1984 (1949), McCarthy’s The Road (2007), Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) or Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 (1969). Films we analyze include Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006), Twelve Monkeys (Gilliam, 1995), The Hunger Games (Ross, 2012), and Divergent (Burger, 2014).

Strategies: Small and large group discussion, analysis and synthesis, film analysis, formal literary analysis writing (Thesis practice, paragraphs, and a 4-6 page multi-paragraph compare and contrast culminating essay), Socratic Seminars and individual public speaking tasks.

Equipment to be provided by student: USB memory stick (thumb drive) recommended