Honors English 491: Utopia and Dystopia 

Dr. Morillo
Tompkins G117  M, W  1:30-2:45
Spring 2010
Office=Tompkins 270; phone: 513-8040
email = morillo@unity.ncsu.edu
web page syllabus = http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/m/morillo/public/hon491.html
Office Hours: M W 10:00-12; T 3:15-4:15 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, like Gulliver's fourth voyage, 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!

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should be able to:

Course Requirements


1. Attendance - see policy below
2. Participation = 15%
3. Midterm Exam = 20%
4. Shorter Paper (5pp) = 15%
5. Written Proposal for Research Paper = 10%
6. Brief Oral Presentation of Research in Progress = 10%
7. Final Research Paper (12-15 pp) = 30%

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://www.ncsu.edu/policies/academic_affairs/pols_regs/REG205.00.4.php

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--just last semester.

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/dss/

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.

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

1. Plato. Republic. Ed. and trans. C. D. C. Reeve. Hackett, 2000.  
2. More, Thomas. Utopia.  Norton, 1992. 
3. Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels Norton, 1998.
4. Scott, Sarah. A Description of Millenium Hall. Broadview,  1995. 
5. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland. Dover, 1998.
7. Skinner, B. F. Walden II.  Macmillan, 1976.
9. Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ballantine, 1996.
10. Scott, Ridley. Blade Runner (film on DVD to be shown)
11. Callenbach, Ernest. Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston. Bantam, 1990.
12. McCarthy, Cormac. The Road, 2007.

How to Use the Oxford English Dictionary Online (Morillo)

Suggested Works for Final Research Papers:

Book of Revelations
Dante Alligheri. Divine Comedy (1315?)
Cavendish, Margaret. A New World Called a Blazing World (1666 fiction)

Marx, Karl. Communist Manifesto
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)
Capra, Frank, dir. Lost Horizon (1937 film)
Orwell, George. 1984 (1949 novel)
Burgess, Anthony, dir. A Clockwork Orange (1962 film)
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)
McTeigue, James, dir. V for Vendetta (2006 film)
Cuaron, Alphonso. Children of Men (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)

M. Jan.11
Introduction  Picturing Utopias & Dystopias
W. Jan 13
Plato Republic 1-5 (philosophy)
M. Jan 18
W. Jan 20

 Plato Republic 6-10 Plato on art   

Platonism in British Poetry

M. Jan 25
 More Utopia (fiction)

W. Jan.27
More cont.
M. Feb.1

Swift Gulliver's Travels, voyages 1-2  (prose satire)

W. Feb. 3
:Gulliver's Travels, voyages 3-4   Sir Walter Scott on Gulliver's Travels, idea of utopia
M. Feb. 8
Paper 1 Due
Scott A Description of Millenium Hall (novel)
read through p. 123
M. Feb.15
Scott continued
read through p. 171
W. Feb.17
Scott continued  points and paragraphs       introductions  
finish novel
M. Feb 22
Scott continued
W. Feb 24
Gilman, Herland (novel)
M. Mar 1
Gilman cont.
W. Mar 3
Gilman cont. Your Topics of Interest
M. Mar 8

Lant, Kathleen Margaret. "The Rape of the Text: Charlotte Gilman's Violation of Herland." Tulsa Studies in  Women's Literature 9.2 (1990): 291-308. (journal article)

Find in Database: MLA International Bibliography (login with unity info to NCSU server)

search = term one   herland  TI (title); search term two = herland  TX (all text)

choose entry #31, click on FIND TEXT AT NCSU


Read Lant's essay and compare the interpretation to your own. Is Lant persuasive? Accurate? Illuminating? About the novel? About untopias?

W. Mar 10
Midterm  Exam : In class Part I choose 4 of 8 short answer questions. Part II, response to Lant on Gilman
M. Mar15
W. Mar 17
M. Mar 22
Skinner Walden II (fiction)  Read through p. 100
W. Mar 24
Skinner Walden II
Read through p. 200
M. Mar 29

Skinner cont. continued

finish novel                   Skinner on Freedom & Responsibility

W. Mar 31
Callenbach  Ecotopia (novel/fictionalized diary) Read through "Savagery Restored: Ecotopia's Dark Side" (98)
M. Apr 5
Finish Ecotopia
About Ernest Callenbach
W. Apr 7
Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (science fiction novel) Scott Blade Runner (film)
Research Paper Proposals Due
M.Apr 12
Dick & Scott cont.
W. Apr 14
McCarthy, The Road (novel)
M. Apr 19
McCarthy cont.
W. Apr 21

research proposal presentations: Amber, Adrianna, Anna, Monica, Allison, Cameron, Kara

you have up to 10 minutes to discuss//present your research in progress

M.Apr 26

research proposal presentations:  Shimaya, Amanda, Annie, Meaghan, Mollie, Win, Samone

you have up to 10 minutes to discuss//present your research in progress

W. Apr 28
last day
F May 7 FINAL RESEARCH PAPER DUE  Tompkins 270, in folder on door by NOON

Please fill out a course evalution online: http://ClassEval.ncsu.edu

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