Teaching American Dystopia: The Reading List

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I’m teaching a course called “Dystopia and American Anxiety” this spring.  The idea came to me while brainstorming with friends on Facebook.  Because dystopia is a genre the frequently plays upon our fears and anxieties, it seemed fitting to put together a course specific to the American side of the skill.  The following is the reading list for the course:

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

Short Stories
“A Sojourn in the City of Amalgamation” by Oliver Bolokitten
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi
“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison
“Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler

Non-Fiction (critical texts, newspaper articles, and excerpts from various books)
“Theses on Dystopia 2001” by Darko Suvin
“Evidence against the views of the abolitionists:  consisting of physical and moral proofs, of the natural inferiority of the Negroes” by Richard H. Colfax
“Introduction:  Dystopia and Histories” from Dark Horizons by Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan
“New Maps of Hell” from Scraps of the the Untainted Sky by Tom Moylan
“The Dystopian Turn” from Scraps of the Untainted Sky by Tom Moylan
“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
“Farewell Address” by President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Interview w/ Noam Chomsky” by David Barsamian
“Profits of War:  The Fruits of the Permanent Military-Industrial Complex” by William Hartung
“The Delicate Balance of Terror” by Albert Wohlstetter
“Soviets to Renew Testing A-Weapons; Kennedy Sees Nuclear Holocaust” by Chalmers M. Roberts
“Smart Machines, and Why We Fear Them” by Astro Teller
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler

Thanks to everyone who helped with suggestions!

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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