Speculative Literature: Utopias and Dystopias

$245 per course per person for the general public. Members pay $230.

$245 public - $230 members

View the weekly class calendar
Spring classes start the week of January 28 and end the week of May 13.

GHFOInstructor: Josh Shainedystopia
5-10 students, ages 13+
Meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 12pm Pacific Time Convert to other time zones here
Classes begin the week of June 18


The concept of utopia – a society without conflict in which all people’s needs are met and they live in harmony – has intrigued us for more than 2000 years. Just as surely, there are those among us convinced that any place that a substantial number of people would find utopic, others would find unlivable. And worse yet is the certainty that others have that a place set up as a utopia would become, whether quickly or slowly, a dystopia – a place of oppression, good only for the chosen few.

In this course, we will review historical views of utopia, take a gander at some of the attempts to create them in practice, and consider the rise of dystopian fiction, both ~100 years ago and again in the recent past. Along the way, we will explore what we consider to be necessary conditions for a utopia and design our own – or at least, we’ll try to!

Some materials used in this class may have content ratings of PG-13.


Required TextThe Utopia Reader, 2nd Edition

Prerequisites: None

Week 1
Class 1: Introduction
Class 2: History of Utopias in Fiction and Fact
Week 2
Class 3: How did We Get from Utopias to Dystopias
Class 4: Building Utopia – Part One (Ideas)
Week 3
Class 5: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Class 6: The City and the Stars & Against the Fall of Night, both by Arthur C. Clarke
Week 4
Class 7: Building Utopia – Part Two (Practicalities)
Class 8: YA Dystopian Fiction, Part 1dystopia dystopia
Week 5
Class 9: YA Dystopian Fiction, Part 2
Class 10: Building Utopia – Part Three (Execution)
Week 6
Class 11: Class’s Choice of Topic
Class 12: Wrap up and Presentations of Our Utopias


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