This course will explore in detail the fascinating genres of science fiction (SF), utopia and dystopia as they emerge in different media forms, from literature and film to television series and graphic novels. After contextualizing utopia/dystopia as subgenres of SF, each week we will analyze and debate different, exemplary cases, from classics of the genre to the most innovative, cutting-edge work of today. From space travel to cyborgs to pandemics and post-apocalyptic futures, we will immerse ourselves in the speculative worlds which continue to capture the imagination of people worldwide.
Alongside our direct engagement with the selected texts and films, in this course we will also explore the historical contexts for the popularity of the different genres of science fiction, utopia and dystopia. Why are utopias more popular in the early 20th century, and why do dystopias suddenly gain in popularity in the 1980s? What shifts in cultural anxieties can we trace in the evolution of SF and dystopia from the 1980s to today? Together we will work to find answers to questions such as these, expanding our ability to critically evaluate works of art, as well as to understand the radical potential inherent in these forms.