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LIT 68 — Imagining Better Worlds in Literature

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Apr 12—Jun 7
Time: 5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 14
Unit: 1
Tuition: $500
Instructor(s): Brianna Thompson
Limit: 30
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Cancelled
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Apr 12—Jun 7
9 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 14
1 Unit
Brianna Thompson
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
What do time travel, utopian communes, genderless aliens, bioengineering, equality between the sexes, critiques of racism, and living in a digital simulation have in common? They all populate 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century stories of “better” worlds. This course surveys literary texts that imagine improved life, encouraging students to ask how religious, social, and technological mores have offered authors a means of critiquing inequality. A sampling of utopian, speculative, and dystopian fiction, as well as science fiction, this course is implicitly in dialogue with our current moment of social, political, and environmental discord. Our readings, group work, discussions, and in-class writing will give students the tools for analyzing how authors across time periods have proposed solutions to all kinds of structural inequalities. Adapted from Kenyon College's English department, this course will invite students to develop proficiency in reading literary works carefully, with attention to language, content, and form. We will read poetry, essays, novels, and short stories. Course texts will include excerpts from Thomas More’s Utopia, W.E.B. Du Bois’s short story “The Comet,” Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn, and works by Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, Larissa Lai, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Kenyon College

Brianna Thompson teaches courses in American women’s literature, queer theory, and utopias/Afrofuturism. Her teaching and research trace how women characters in 19th- and 20th-century American literature harness erotic power to build radical new relationships out of loss, ultimately challenging patriarchal kinship structures and imagining new worlds. She has published written work on Octavia Butler and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Thompson received an MA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from Cornell.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Sutton E. Griggs, Imperium in Imperio (ISBN 978-0812971606 )
(Required) Raquel Salas Rivera, antes que isla es volcán / before island is volcano (ISBN 978-0807014578)
(Required) Octavia Butler, Dawn, (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1) (ISBN 978-0446603775)