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Lecture 1

ENGL 2025 Lecture 1: Utopian/Dystopian Literature Lecture (5.15.17)

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Louisiana State University
ENGL 2025
Chris Tusa

ENGL 2025 Professor Chris Tusa Spring Intercession May 15, 2017 Day One Lecture: Dystopian/Utopian Literature • Term coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 • Derived from Greek (ou+topos)= “No place” • “The vision of a perfect society” • Happiness= the equal distribution of wealth and goods o Somewhat socialist (Marxism) view o Started with Marxism • Ideas started: o 375BC, Plato’s Republic ▪ World revealed by our senses is not real world but poor copy of it (a shadow of truth) ▪ Truth must be experienced rather than told (language fails to convey belief) ▪ Central theme is search for (and meaning of) justice ▪ Justice is defined as a state where everyone is to do their own work while not interfering with the work of others ▪ Ruling should be left to educated people whose only purpose is to govern in just manner, and who are somehow immune to corruption • Message is usually “if you fight the state, you’ll lose.” ▪ A “good city” is depicted as being governed by philosopher- kings ▪ People rule not for personal enjoyment but for good of the city- state (polis) ▪ There are no slaves, no castes, no discrimination between men and women ▪ Rulers assemble couples for reproduction, based on breeding criteria • Somewhat of a Nazi sense, “The perfect race” ▪ Book I-V: Utopia portion, portrays the ideal community ▪ Book VII: Allegory of the Cave, metaphor for state of human existence (transformation that occurs during philosophical **missed word)*** ▪ Reality is an illusion, what we perceive as real from birth is completely based on our imperfect interpretations of reality ▪ --missed note ▪ People watch shadows projected on the wall by puppets and begin to assign forms to these shadows ▪ According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality ▪ Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality ▪ They would think the things they see on wall (the shadows) were real o 1516, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia ▪ Coined the word “utopia”* ▪ A satire on unrealistic idealism describes political and social arrangements or imaginary island country of Utopia • TEST QUESTION: Which one is a satire? o Utopia ▪ Describes political and social arrangements of imaginary island country of Utopia ▪ Portrays nation based on rational thought ▪ Private property does not exist, religious toleration reigns ▪ Principal message is the social need for order and discipline, rather than liberty ▪ Unlike Plato’s Republic, utopia is not presented to as blueprint for ideal state but as a fiction rather than a possibility ▪ Theme of sameness- everything in Utopia is homogenous, indistinguishable ▪ A rational community- a homogenous community ▪ Agricultural work is a communal activity • Focus on labor • Comes from old (colonial) societies where everybody put in a full day, built houses ▪ Working on land is necessary part of life, stigma of work is removed ▪ Promotes communal economy (economic structures of markets and money do not exist) • “A communal economy” ▪ Political sys
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