Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Nightmares

Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Stephen Beck
Steve Blakeslee
English, writing, literature

Sometimes we dream of a perfect social world; sometimes we imagine a nightmarish and miserable social order. And sometimes, what one person regards as a perfect society is regarded by others as perfectly horrifying. In this program, we will delve into both fictional and philosophical treatments of utopias and dystopias. Our philosophical texts will be drawn from such works as Plato’s Republic , Hobbes’ Leviathan , Locke’s Second Treatise of Government , Rawls’ A Theory ofJustice , and Mills’ The Racial Contract . Literary works will likely include Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 , Huxley’s Brave New World , and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, along with lesser-known works like H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia. Through these readings, we will explore the values that such visions of society embody, and what they may tell us about what to seek or avoid in our social interactions. In addition, we will consider what these utopian and dystopian visions may reveal to us about our own hopes, fears, desires, and motivations. This program will also provide students with guidance and support in developing their skills as readers, writers, and critical thinkers.

Fields of study: 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: humanities, literature, and philosophy.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Scheduled for: Evening

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

Mon/Wed 6-10p