Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature: Utopia and Ecology

Course Number: ENGL 234
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 234
Quarter: Fall 2013
Instructor: Shewry, Teresa
Day(s): R
Time: 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Location: SH 2714
Description:

This course explores the relationships between ecological and utopian thought. We will begin with two classical utopias, Thomas More's Utopia and Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, before considering how nineteenth century writers imaginatively experiment with the "well nigh utopian dignity" of indigenous peoples, islands, and vegetarians. Turning to the histories and ethics of deliberate environmental and social transformation, particularly in the global south, we will consider early twentieth century utopian visions of scientific ecologists engineering a new ecological and social order. We will move briefly to "green" utopias of the 1970's, before considering how writers outside of Europe and the United States have transformed or otherwise addressed utopian form, stirring it together with indigenous political projects and concepts of time and space. Finally, we will consider utopia at this time of climate change.

As well as considering the work and possibilities of utopia, we will look at the following utopian preoccupations: the making of transnational and multi species socialities and friendships; reconciling ecology and economy; utopia, the state, and empire; vegetarianism; utopias of (or against) science; utopian islands and indigenous peoples; and environmental and social engineering. In connection with Mellon Sawyer Seminar on "Sea Change," we will also consider the relationships between utopian thought and water, from the emergence of the first utopias in the ocean onwards.