Adventures in Teaching: The Dystopia Lit. Syllabus Reading List

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My “The Dystopian Tradition and American Anxiety” syllabus is finalized and submitted to the English department for approval.  Good news, no?  In the meantime, I’d like to share the reading list for this course, just so everyone can see what I’ve assigned for these poor little undergrads to read.  There are still a few gaps, which I will mention at the end.  If you have any suggestions for historically relevant essays and the like to fill those gaps, please let me know in the comments.

Here it is:

The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson
Make Room, Make Room! by Harry Harrison
The Iron Heel by Jack London
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The Female Man by Joanna Russ

Short Stories
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster
“The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut (with a screening of 2081)
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler
“I have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison
“The Funeral” by Kate Wilhelm
“A Sojourn in the City of Amalgamation” by Oliver Bolokitten (excerpts)

Historical Documents
“Evidence against the views of the abolitionists:  consisting of physical and moral proofs of the natural inferiority of the Negroes” by Richard H. Colfax (1833)
“Overpopulation Threatens World” by Ralph Segman
“Overpopulation Called Deadlier Killer Than A-Bomb” by Unknown
“Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear” by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
“Interview w/ Noam Chomsky” conducted by David Barsamian (excerpts)
“Profits of War:  The Fruits of the Permanent Military-Industrial Complex” by William Hartung

Critical Readings
“Theses on Dystopia 2001” by Darko Suvin
“Introduction:  Dystopia and Histories” by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan
“New Maps of Hell” by Tom Moylan (excerpts)
“The Dystopian Turn” by Tom Moylan (excerpts)

The Gaps
Historical readings I need:

  • An anti-socialism propaganda piece from pre-1909
  • A reading on nuclear war fears (such as a newspaper article articulating the terror of nuclear war); alternatively, a really good short film about the nuclear scare / red scare would be great (from the era, mind you)
  • A reading on the fear of AI
I’m am unfortunately short on the following
  • Work by people of color
  • Work by women
Note that all fiction works have to be by Americans (broadly defined) and must in some way address a real world social fear (nuclear holocaust, governments gone wrong, feminist utopias/dystopias, and that sort of thing).  Random dystopias won’t work for the course.  I’ve carefully selected all of my readings to reflect some sort of serious anxiety in American culture, from the 1800s anti-abolitionists to contemporary concerns over the environment and corporate control.  But if you’ve got a suggestion for a short story by a woman or a person of color that would fit the bill, please don’t hesitate to suggest it in the comments.
And that does it.  What do you think?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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