Honors 202 Inquiry, Discovery, Literature: Utopias and Dystopias

Dr. Morillo

Tompkins G126  M, W  1:30-2:45

Fall 2013

Office=Tompkins 270; phone: 513-8040

email = morillo@ncsu.edu

web page syllabus = http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/m/morillo/public/hon20213.htm

Office Hours: M W 10:00-12; T 10:30-12 and by appointment


Course Description

Thomas More literally wrote the book on utopia in 1516, and in 1868 John Stuart Mill coined ‘dystopia’ as the antithesis of More's beautiful nowhere-land.  These authors together represent just two of the many contributions of literature, the arts, political science, and philosophy to our current range of possibilities about what might make the world an ideal place, or an utterly horrible one. How have ideas of the good life changed? Where might it be found, or how created? Is a straight, non-satiric utopian vision still possible? Why are some works classified as both utopian and dystopian? This course will explore some dimensions of utopian and dystopian thinking, including treatments of the topic in art, film, and new online media --the last a notable example of a portal to either a utopian or dystopian future, depending on whom you ask! Readings will range from the classical period to the present, and include Plato’s Republic, Moore’s Utopia, Thoreau’s Walden, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Orwell’s 1984, and Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, paired with Ridley Scott’s movie treatment of it, Blade Runner.  We will also compare male and female visions of the ideal and horrific via works from the 17th and 20th centuries by Margaret Cavendish and Charlotte Gillman.


Satisfies 3 hours credit for Humanities GEP (General Education Program)


Humanities GEP Learning Objectives:

1.     Engage the human experience through the interpretation of human culture and

2.     Become aware of the act of interpretation itself as a critical form of knowing in the humanities; and

3.     Make academic arguments about the human experience using reasons and evidence for supporting those reasons that are appropriate to the humanities.


HON 202 Utopias/Dystopias Learning Objectives:


1.      Read critically and deeply in the genre of utopian and dystopian writings

2.      Formulate original questions about this literate tradition and produce both critical and creative responses to them

3.      Write critically and clearly about original research problems generated from learning about this tradition


Participation: 10%

Paper 1. 5 pages. 15%

Creative Project. 15%

Research Paper Proposal: 10%

Paper 2: Final Research Paper: 25%

Final Exam: 25%


Grade Calculation:

Percentages for each required graded category are figured via a percentage of a 12-pt. scale in which an A+ =12 and
an F=0 points. For example, a B+ on the Shorter Paper would net you 9 x .15 or .1.35 points.  I then add up the percentage points for each required category to determine your grade.  For example, an 8.2 final score = B for the class.

Participation includes your grades on periodic quizzes, and coming to class prepared, having done the readings and being able to talk and write about them intelligently.

You must complete all the required work to pass the class.  I will grade plus/minus.

Attendance: You are allowed 3 absences. If you are absent, unexcused, more than 3 times over the course of the semester, your absences will count progressively against your final grade . Every 2 unexcused absences beyond the allowed 3 loses you a half letter grade for the final course grade. Anyone who misses the first two classes can be immediately dropped from the class. For the definition of an unexcused absence, see http://policies.ncsu.edu/regulation/reg-02-20-03

Plagiarism: Anyone convicted will receive an F for the paper, or the course at my discretion.

And yes, I have caught people in the past.

Late Papers: Papers received ONE class session late will be accepted but docked a full grade.
No late papers accepted after one class session late.

Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus
            Box 7509, 515-7653. http://www.ncsu.edu/dso/

Academic Integrity Assumption
Universities are unique communities committed to creating and transmitting knowledge. They depend on freedom - individuals' freedom to explore ideas and to explore and further their own capabilities. Those freedoms depend on the good will and responsible behavior of all the members of the community, who must treat each other with tolerance and respect. They must allow each other to develop the full range of their capabilities and take full advantage of the institution's resources.

Career Guidance
Wondering how that NCSU degree might get you a job?


Explore career options related to your major, make decisions about your major or minor, build resumes and cover letters, prepare for interviews, develop internship/ job search strategies, maximize career fairs, and more. Make an appointment with your career contact, Jane Matthews (A-H) or Woody Catoe (I-Z), through ePACK.  Career Development Center, 2100 Pullen Hall. careers.ncsu.edu


Required Texts & Resources
Print Texts --available now in the NCSU bookstore.

1. Plato. Republic. Ed. and trans. C. D. C. Reeve. Hackett, 2000.  
2. More, Thomas. Utopia.  Norton, 1992. 
3. Cavendish, Margaret. A Description of a New World Called a Blazing World  in Paper Bodies. Broadview, 2000.
4. Thoreau, Henry. Walden. Empire Books, 2011.
5. Marx, Karl. Communist Manifesto.
6. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland. Dover, 1998

7. Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four

8. Dick, Philip. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ballantine, 1996.
11. Scott, Ridley, dir. Blade Runner. (film on dvd)

12. Cuarón, Alfonso, dir. Children of Men.(film on dvd)

How to Use the Oxford English Dictionary Online (Morillo)

Other Works for Final Research Papers and/or Final Exam:

Book of Revelations
Dante Alligheri. Divine Comedy (1315?)
Butler, Samuel. Erewhon (1872)
Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backwards 2000-1887 (1888)
Morris, William. News from Nowhere (1890)\
Wells, H. G. A Modern Utopia (1905)
Lang, Fritz. Metropolis (1927 film)
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World (1932)
Hilton, James. Lost Horizon (1933 novel)

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road (2007 novel)

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games (2010 novel)

Skinner, B. F. Walden II (1948 novel)
Capra, Frank, dir. Lost Horizon (1937 film)
Burgess, Anthonby. A Clockwork Orange (1962 novel)
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring (1962 non-fiction)
Kubrick, Stanley. A Clockwork Orange (1971 film)
Miller, George. Mad Max (1979 film)
Gibson, William. Neuromancer (1984 novel)
Gilliam, Terry, dir. Brazil (1985 film)
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale (1986 novel)
Wachowski, Andy, dir. The Matrix (1999 film)
Jones, Garret. Ourtopia (2004 nonficton)
McTeigue, James, dir. V for Vendetta (2006 film)
Stoppard, Tom. Coast of Utopia (3-play trilogy 2002 [Voyage, Shipwreck, Salvage] utopian thinking in 19th-c Russia)

Guggenheim An Inconvenient Truth (2006 documentary film)
Hilcoat, John, dir. The Road (2009 film)
Deus Ex, role-playing computer game

Fallout, role-playing computer game

Neill Blomkamp, dir. Elysium. (2013 film)


SYLLABUS  (green = dates of works)

W. Aug 21

Introduction: Yourtopia          Picturing Utopias & Dystopias    Prior classes Yourtopias:



M. Aug 26

Plato Republic (380 BCE ) Books 1-3 (pp. 1-102 in Reeve)

W. Aug 28

 Discuss Yourtopias   turn in your Plato questions
 Plato Republic Books 4-6 (pp., 103-207 in Reeve)

Versions of Utopia

Th Aug 29 Get your dystopian fix; join us for Elysium at Mission Valley cinema, 7:20pm showing

M. Sept 2



W. Sep 4

 Republic Books 7-10 (pp. 208-326 in Reeve)

M. Sep 9

More Utopia (fiction 1516)  Introduction (pp. 7-20) and Book I (pp. 21-57)

Does Utopia represent a positive ideal? Is Hythloday to be believed

W. Sep 11

More Utopia continued, Book II (pp. 58-118)

What are the most important differences between Utopia and Kallipolis?

What is the least appealing feature of Utopia?

M. Sep 16

Cavendish New Blazing World (1666) Part I in Paper Bodies  (Part I pp. 151-230)

What is distinctive about this imaginary world invented by a woman?

Is Blazing World utopian fiction? What is its genre?

W. Sep 18

Cavendish  Part II in Paper Bodies pp. 231-251    Why all the emphasis on the soul?

Plato and Cavendish

F. Sep 20

 Paper 1 Due

M.Sept 23

Thoreau Walden (1854)  read chaps. Economy -- Reading (1-3)   Should Walden be classified as a utopian work? Is it distinctly or identifiably American?

Annotated online edition of Walden

W. Sep 25

chaps: -- Sounds--Brute Neighbors (4-12)   Thoreau's philosophy Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

M. Sep 30

chaps- House-Warming—Conclusion

Walden video game:

W Oct 2.

Marx Communist Manifesto (1848) pp. 59-94

How is Marx different from More's Hytholday if both propose to end private property?

What makes Communisim, according to Marx, diferent from Utopian Socialism? (see pp 90-2)

How does Marx's criticim of freedom differ from Plato's?

U.S Communist Party Weekly Newspaper The Southern Woker (1931)

M. Oct  7

Gilman, Herland (novel 1915) read Chaps 1-4 (p.98)

What has changed about a female utopia since Cavendish?

Reading Gilman: a swaddled engine

W. Oct 9


 Midterm :Creative Projects due presented

M. Oct 14

Gilman finish the novel Chaps. 5-12 (p.99-163)

W. Oct 16

Gilman cont.

Gilman's Forerunner Magazine Vol. 6 1915   In this online copy read all of the entries before Herland starts:

"Sunrise and New Year" "Mrs. Dwight's Future" "The Power of Freedom" "How They Did It" "Free Speech in the Schools" "A Debate on Suffrage" "The Gunman" (pp 1- 11/ Herland begins on p. 12)

What do we learn about Herland by reading what Gilman originally published with it? Respond in 1-p. paper. To hand in at end of class today.

M. Oct 21

selection of work(s) for research paper, and other work for Final Part I due. On paper, handed in.


 Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) pp. 1-100 (through ch. 8; end of Part I)

W. Oct 23

Orwell pp. 101-200 (through part II

M. Oct 28

Orwell pp. 201-300 (finish) 

What do we learn about 1984 by reading Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"? Respond in 1-p. paper. To hand in at end of class today.


W. Oct 30

Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) Chapters 1-7

M. Nov 4

 Dick (Chapters 8-14)   Luba Luft's world of art:

Mozart The Magic Flute: plot synopsis   libretto     performance   

Edward Munch paintings: The Scream ; Puberty

W. Nov 6

Dick (chapters 15-22)

M. Nov 11

Scott, Ridley Blade Runner (1982)   IMDB Blade Runner site


Alternate endings in scripts for Blade Runner

W. Nov 13

 Dick and Scott: For today be sure to read Christopher Sims' essay (sims&dick.pdf) on Dick's novel, on google drive in the Research Paper Secondary Sources Folder


Martin Heidegger "The Question Concerning Technology"

M. Nov 18

Research Paper Proposals Due

W. Nov 20

Proposal and research discussion   READ PROPOSALS HERE:

Th Nov 21 Showing of Children of Men; Clark Conference Room. EVENING

M. Nov 25

Discussion of Children of Men. Alfonso Cuarón, dir. (2006)

W. Nov 27

THANKSGIVING  Break no class


M Dec 2

research presentations: 

discuss/present your research in progress

W Dec 4 Review

W Dec 11 1-4pm

Final Exam  FINAL RESEARCH PAPER DUE at start of exam time


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