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 is 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 (2006), 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 discussions, 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