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"Dystopia - Imagined and Real" Interdisciplinary Masterseminar in the Summer Term 2017

News from Mar 21, 2017

Dystopia: Imagined and Real

Instructors:  Irwin Collier and Thomas Rommel


Only a year ago the instructors offered a course that looked at Utopian literature and social experiments and social reform in the late 19th century. With the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the future of so much taken for granted in U.S. political life has become less certain than at any time besides the Civil War with change appearing to have trumped hope. A dismal future vision of global developments is not just science fiction anymore and this course will examine and contrast dystopian visions in literature with an eye on recent social, economic, political and constitutional trends in the United States and elsewhere that have led us to the very real present state of the world. The instructors look forward to lively discussion!


Required Reading: Core Texts:

Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (1935)

Bruce Ackerman, The Decline and Fall of the American Republic (2010)

J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (2016)

George Packer, The Unwinding (2014), selected chapters to be announced.


The class will discuss ten important dystopian novels that share the charm of having been filmed.  Participants in the interdisciplinary seminar will be assigned to a group responsible for a presentation on a particular novel and the entire seminar will watch the corresponding film which is to be discussed following the group presentation on that novel.


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