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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John O'Neill
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

English 200A, "Utopian/Dystopian Societies in Contemporary Fiction" fulfills both VLPA and W requirements, and is designed to introduce students to techniques and practices for reading and enjoying literature.

As Fox TV casts for a new “reality” series to be titled “Utopia,” a recent article in The Seattle Times chronicles “the current craze for post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories.” What accounts for this interest, evident in both popular culture and literature, in alternative communities or societies, whether these are anarchic or authoritarian, reminiscent of the state of nature or suggestive of a surveillance state?

In this class we will read three recent novels, alternately set in the recent past, a recognizable present, or the near future, that experiment with different mixes of utopian, anti-utopian, and dystopian elements. As much as we will focus on the literary elements of these novels, we will also explore some of the political and social implications of this dystopian turn in contemporary culture.

Novels by Dave Eggers, Chang-Rae Lee, and Lauren Groff.

Questions? Contact the instructor, John O'Neill: joneill@uw.edu

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Three short essays, group work, and class discussion.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional ENGL course descriptions.
Last Update by John O'Neill
Date: 04/22/2014