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Topics in Literary Interpretation I

Utopias and Dystopias

Island floating above mountains with a purple sky and yellow big sun

What might the ideal society to live in look like? What would the most horrible be like? What makes a society good or bad? These questions have inspired and troubled imaginative writers for centuries. This course looks at (mostly) utopian and (some) dystopian fictions from about 1900 to the present day, to consider how hope and fear have tried to transform our understanding of our collective lives and the very shape of our modern world. The fiction considered will be mostly literary, with some film. The course is discussion-centred but will include some lecture, as well as in-class writing and presentation projects that respond to readings and that require you to build your own utopias.


Evaluation will likely be based on:

  • Weekly reports
  • Participation including in-class projects
  • A short final essay
  • A short final exam
  • An individual utopia.


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290 

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.