Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind Bending My own areas of knowledge are Physics and Mathematics. In literature I am moving out of my comfort zone. However I found this course amazing. It has really broadened my mind and I now have numerous books to read and movies to watch. Thanks Pamela Bedore.
Date published: 2020-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Discriptive about all things utopian and dystopian I am learning so much about subjects I never considered or knew about. The professor is very knowledgeable and a delight to listen to, you can tell she loves her subject and wants to inform us about everything she knows!
Date published: 2019-12-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Insights I should have paid closer attention to the course description, and especially the chapter titles. My impression was the course would explore Utopian and Dystopian worlds; comparing and contrasting different views, aspects, and relationships between them, then relating how various authors had dealt with those aspects. It was very soon apparent that was incorrect. It is rather a book review of of selected works of the genre through time, each volume examined in itself and compared and contrasted to other works being covered. Professor Bedore is very knowledgeable, has selected many great examples of the genre, and expressed well thought out impressions of them. Her enthusiasm and love of the topic is wonderful. She has definite opinions, and is not afraid to express them, refreshing in our day of trying not to offend anyone. I gained many insights to add to my own reading of many of the works reviewed. A couple of comments on the lecture presentation itself: she displays some gestures so repeatedly that became distracting, perhaps using a lectern would help. She was constantly in "spoiler alert" mode, and apparently fearful of "ruining" the reading of someone who had not yet read that particular book. I would suggest if she perceives this as a problem, do a universal warning in the first lecture, and then proceed to fully explain plots so as to fully justify her interpretation. In conclusion, the course was well worth the time and money. I would purchase a followup.
Date published: 2019-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview of 500 years of literature I just finished this course and was sorry to see it end. It provided a great overview of the topic, going back 500 years to the origin of utopian literature. The instructor has a pleasant, engaging style. The lectures are well organized and go into sufficient detail without overwhelming the viewer.
Date published: 2019-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great lecturer I was worried this would be dry...quite the opposite. I’m hoping GreatCourses will get het to do lectures on her many other subject areas.
Date published: 2019-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic Presentation This course has been one of my favorites. The professor, Pamela Bedore, has an infectious, enthusiastic speaking style. She clearly loves the genre of utopian/dystopian literature, and presents her clear and informative lectures in such a way that I now want to read many of the works she describes. I've been making a list as the course progressed, and I'm going to be busy for a long time. Professor Bedore also opened my eyes to many women authors with whom I was not familiar, and the fascinating perspectives these authors bring to the genre. I felt that the on screen graphics greatly enhanced the presentation, although even just watching the professor's delivery of the info was fun - she may be reading from a teleprompter, but you wouldn't know it - she's just enjoying telling us all the different aspects of these books, and her enjoyment inspired me, while also providing much scholarly information. Strongly recommended.
Date published: 2018-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent selection of presented material I just finished the course, and loved every minute of it! Really enjoyed the analysis of some of my favorite works of fiction.Great content, excellent and engaging presenter.
Date published: 2018-09-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I bought this course for a specific reason After listening to all 24 chapters & before posting, I read other folks’ thoughts on this course -- seeing that they had similar insights to mine; pointing out that there are OTHER numerous writings on utopia-dystopia that have been omitted to focus on a “planned agenda” which clearly unfolds half way through the course. Obviously it is impossible to cover everything – but analyzing the course as a whole: I agree -- yes, it DOES appear to have an “agenda” which is obvious to us educated, well-read, well-traveled seasoned veterans (I’m 70) – but may be oblivious to impressionable youth. Is it any wonder why at college campuses you can easily rent-a-mob? Such reviews don’t remain here very long here because they are “archived to save [.0001 cent of] disk space”….though my POSITIVE reviews seem to remain forever. Maybe there’s a rea$on? This review is in 2 parts: (1) course review (2) why I bought the course COURSE REVIEW: Seems the rule-of-the-game in academia -- is for a professor to read extensively on authors that support ONLY their agenda & point-of-view…which is presented ubiquitously (and “progressively”) as “how the WHOLE WORLD thinks and believes”. This is like the judge that says “here’s the way I want the trial to go – so find me some law to support it”. I generally shoot down & debunk slogans (& explain why) and especially debunk LABELS plastered on things, expecting us [to be Neanderthals and] to believe those labels & expressions. Since I have over a dozen books on quotes, I’m keeping a list that now exceeds 100 labels-of-nonsense. Labels in this context; course TITLES. So I ask myself: is this course title really about utopia & dystopia fiction? Or is it about carefully-selected disgruntled authors who bash capitalism & praise socialism because they bitterly HATE (with green foam of jealousy) the rich kid next door? How about professors whose former students become financially successful and live in opulence -- while the same professors still rent a 1-bedroom apartment? See some MOTIVATION there for a course or book? One consistent theme in this utopia-dystopia course is: Any society that can pay its bills, put food on the table for family, and have some form of happiness or leisure -- is the [assured] DIRECT RESULT of someone else that is paying the price, robbed, disadvantaged, and utterly miserable. This is shoved in our face in the beginning AND ending of this course….showing some isolated (but valid) examples centuries ago…trying to make us think it is ubiquitous NOW. Just fiction? What IS ubiquitous (& not fiction) is common real-world jealousy: An interesting course professor did a study: if a wealthy philanthropist had a million dollars to divide between you and your despised neighbor (10% to you and 90% to him) – and you had the final say-so in the transaction – the result was an overwhelming 80% would choose to CANCEL the entire transaction – thus they would forfeit their free $100,000 because of jealousy & hatred. Perhaps also are outraged book authors who use their brilliant skills to send us a “message”. The socialist peasant mentality believes only in a FIXED amount of money – pushed to one side of the table or the other. They have ZERO concept of wealth generation. Any wonder why effective political ads are always about CLASS WARFARE? What a UTOPIA! Plato’s utopia or Marx’s utopia or Hitler’s utopia? Bottom line: 20M Russian citizens dead under Stalin’s socialist utopia, 30M Chinese citizens dead under Mao’s socialist utopia, 56M dead under Hitler’s fascist utopia. Let’s just flippantly dismiss those little details, shall we? One tyranny replaced by another tyranny. As the old saying goes “one thing we learn from history is that we NEVER learn from history….because our situation is unique”. Yeah; sure. WHY I BOUGHT THE COURSE: In the last part of the last chapter the charming & eloquent professor Pam mentions “the Fallout video game series”. Since I’m into that, I thought it might be interesting to take this TGC course on the subject to see what literary influences the game’s authors used in creating this massive & immersive adult story line. I could elaborate - but TGC only gives us so much space here. Since this course [mostly] met my objectives, I gave it a “star”. SUMMARY: If you’re a liberal; then this course is for you! Go for it! As other reviewers have pointed out, midway through the course is a platform to preach extensively on extreme feminism, LGBT (which is mostly irrelevant to this course – wherein is only a casual mention of bisexual), plus add socialist agendas ----- all of course, the sole ideas of the books’ AUTHORS. The last few chapters of this course return to the so-called title theme so it will appear “balanced”. Alternatively, if you’re a conservative; grab a bucket.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some worthy aspects, but generally disappointing I am a regular customer of the Great Courses, which generally are, well, great. This course does offer some useful insights and is particularly valuable as a review of early works. Moreover, it introduced me to a couple of later novels ('We' and 'The Road') of which I was previously unaware and which are now on my 'must read' list. However, I agree with the primary critique of some other reviewers in that the professor is clearly more interested in grinding an ideological axe than with presenting dystopian and utopian literature per se. Specifically, her hobby horses are feminist and LGBT issues. Her choices of subject works are driven by these outlooks and her interpretation is almost entirely - certainly by the latter half of the course - filtered through these lenses. It's a shame, because she is an engaging and personable lecturer.
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exactly what you would expect (which is good)! Professor Bedore has constructed an excellent course touching on most of the famous utopian and dystopian works of literature. She begins logically with Thomas More and his famous work 'Utopia' which spawned the entire field. Professor Bedore then meanders quite nimbly through Swift, Voltaire, Hawthorne, Butler, Bellamy, and Wells. By lecture 9, we are in the 20th century and begin examining the famous dystopian triad of Zamyatin, Huxley, and Orwell. Overall, the trajectory of the course is highly efficient. All of the major works are covered and, although, Professor Bedore is obviously quite socially progressive, her political statements make good sense in the context of her lectures on feminist utopian literature. Ending with 'Black Mirror,' was also a nice note.
Date published: 2018-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outside My Area Of Interest - Took A Chance! I have a number of Great Courses in the areas of science, math, and history. The description for this course was intriguing. Although I had read only a few of the works, this had been so long ago I had forgotten - and maybe never completely grasped - their full meaning. Being outside my primary area of interest I took a chance in making the purchase. A pre-purchase concern was whether one could appreciate these works and the shared information without having been previously exposed to them. This concern was unfounded as the instructor provides background and the primary (often detailed) storylines in her presentation. The material is well structured, the topics mesh, and the instructor's enthusiasm in the subject is infectious. Some reviewers complained about socialist, feminist, or LGBT overtones. I (a non-liberal male) find such complaints meaningless in terms of course definition. The title accurately describes content and the stories - like all good stories of this genre - are meant to be a thought provoking commentary on a society and its people. Interpret is you will - that is the point! I first took the course about a year ago. There is much to digest in these lectures and they are so enjoyable that I have started the series again. Also I have a cousin just graduating from high school and bound for college. I will be purchasing the course as a gift for her. The visual version is the one I have reviewed and the one I would recommend.
Date published: 2018-06-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting material The lecturer's Valley Girl style is off putting (I'm in my 70's) and distracts from the material. Mannered expressions like "Okaaaay!" seem inappropriate to the seriousness of the discussion.
Date published: 2018-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative! The Dvds have clarified lots of the genre to me now.
Date published: 2018-04-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from very good BUT most chapters stopped before Completion. I could not listen to one whole chapter all the way through because of a defect in my streaming. It could only be corrected by going to settings and starting all over again. very difficult to do when driving. Wish I could have continued listening without these interruptions.
Date published: 2018-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of fun! I really enjoyed Dr. Bedore's thorough consideration of utopian and dystopian literature. My "must-read" book list just increased by about ten books, and I've discovered a new all-time favorite in Octavia Butler. Thanks Dr. Bedore!
Date published: 2018-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking and Chilling This course was such an interesting addition to the Great Courses repertoire. I never would have considered this genre to have been worthy of much speculation, more so Utopian literature than dystopian literature. This course surprised me in a lot of ways. I now know there to be such a wealth of literature and popular fiction about the genre than I could have ever dreamed of. The course made me think about what great literature is supposed to make us do. It makes us think deeply about what it means to be human and want can we do to help improve society for the benefit of everyone. The goal of courses like these are to enrich the learning experience and make you want to know more. Great Works of Utopian and Dystopian literature makes me want to read more of these genre works.
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and Wide-Ranging Professor Bedore provides great insights into utopian and dystopian worlds (are they the same?) [cue eerie music]. The course is wide-ranging and fascinating. I loved the way Bedore introduced a book and would say "before I give the spoilers, go read it!" Best advice ever. She loves the topic and now I do too!
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent on Audio My disclaimer is that I haven’t finished it, but after 15 years of listening to TTC, this is my first review, because this lecture is really well delivered and extremely interesting. The lecturer covers ground quickly with enthusiasm and insight. As an English major it reminds me of literature I loved while tying that into a line of works that introduces ones I haven’t yet explored.
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific spinoff on so many other disciplnes. Not just for lit freaks but digestible by most geeks.
Date published: 2017-12-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great Disappointment My husband and I are regular customers. We have never had a critical comment about any of our courses. This one, however, was not what I had anticipated. It is a thinly veiled tract for feminist, homosexual and socialist ideas. Some of the greatest science fiction utopian and dystopian writers are not even mentioned! Additionally, the lecturer is probably ok for junior high kids, but not for adults. She comes across as a bit silly. I am so disappointed. You can bet I will read the fine print next time I buy a course.
Date published: 2017-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Misnomer I thought I purchased a course on dystopian and utopian literature. What I got was a protracted feminist/gender studies lecture. Let me sum up: a UTOPIAN society is run by women. A DYSTOPIAN society is run by oppressive white middle class men with machines which eventually become more intelligent than their creators, take over their environment, and inevitably destroy everything because they were not created by women.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature Here is a suggestion for you. The course arrived the day you asked for this review. I have had this same thing happen in the past. This course has approximately 12 hours of lecture. There is no way I can give a review for you that quickly. Perhaps you can give your customers a few weeks to actually listen to the course before asking for a review.
Date published: 2017-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation, excellent overview. Professor Bedore's lectures evidence a lot of preparation, which were both enjoyable and helpful. They are clear, well organized, enthusiastic and energetic throughout. She moves and turns her body at appropriate times for emphasis and to signal transitions. Likewise, the volume and tone of her voice varies appropriate to the content of what she is taking. In sum, she is a dynamic speaker. Similarly, her lectures are well organized and provide a good overview of the literature of utopia. They cover its origins and history, its major thematic developments, representative works and authors and, to a significant extent, it underlying theories and critical response. I was very satisfied with it as a survey course and would recommend it to anyone who seeks a basic understanding of the genre.
Date published: 2017-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Course Will Get You "Nowhere" Utopias allow authors and readers to imagine societies that are much better than ours and dystopias societies that are much worse. Professor Bedore ably analyzes at least three dozen novels and short stories of both types and those that fall in-between. As you probably know, the genre—with a bit of a precedent in Plato’s Republic—began in the early 16th century with Thomas More’s Utopia (Greek for “no place”), in which two speakers in dialog described a large island kingdom that had succeeded in eliminating poverty and cultivating virtue. The most famous dystopias come from the first half of the twentieth century: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s 1984. Yet more than half the course covers works written since 1950, most of it previously unknown to me. This genre poses two large challenges. First, it is hard to separate utopia/dystopia from science fiction, which also deals with imaginary societies. In fact, the Teaching Company’s “How Great Science Fiction Works,” with Gary K. Wolfe, has one lecture entirely devoted to several of the same utopias and dystopias that Bedore discusses. Other works in that course, like Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle, would also fit here. Second, utopia and dystopia aren’t really opposite kinds of societies so much as opposite poles on a spectrum, in which most societies have elements of both. In Brave New World, for example, the global state keeps everyone in line with the never-ending physical pleasure of drugs and promiscuous relations—this is supposed to be an entirely bad thing? Samuel Butler’s Erewhon treats criminals like sick people and sick people like criminals. In Ursula Le Guin’s Omelas everyone is happy except for just one miserable filthy and wasted child. Even More’s Utopia has slaves. Many works have experimented with gender. In 1915 Charlotte Perkins Gilman imagined a women’s society with no men in Herland, and James Tiptree, Jr. brought back the idea in 1976 with Houston, Houston, Do You Read? In other works since the 1970s people change gender once (Samuel Delany’s Trouble on Triton), other people can be one gender one month, and another gender the next (Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness), and men can get pregnant (Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild). Of course there is also Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, in which fertile women are handed out as prizes to leaders of the religious dystopia of Gilead. Another important theme is free will or the lack of it. In Brave New World citizens are fitted by genetic engineering and hypnopedia (sleep teaching) for permanent membership in one of five social castes. The precogs in Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report and the wretched child in Omelas have no choice about their necessary but terrible role. In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, which I plan never, ever to read or watch because it sounds too violent, the government conditions the murderous protagonist, Alex the Large, to become nauseated if he commits any violence, even in self-defense. In Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, groups of humans live with vampires who feed on them while also bestowing long life, better health and physical pleasure, but these humans are in fact addicted to this treatment. I have very few complaints and only minor ones at that. I wish that Bedore had included much more discussion of William Morris’s News from Nowhere, which gets only a very brief mention at the end of Lecture 6 on Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. The same is true of B.F. Skinner’s Walden II in Lecture 15. There is nothing at all on Gerhart Hauptmann’s Isle of the Great Mother, which would have fit nicely with Herland as a feminist separatist utopia. On the other hand, Voltaire’s Candide and H.G. Wells’ Time Machine could have been left out because the utopian/dystopian motifs represented only part of their stories. I didn’t quite like Bedore’s mannerisms in her otherwise well-delivered lectures, sometimes giving the viewer sidelong glances and trying weakly to build excitement with trite phrases like “Guess who…” or “Yep, that’s right!” She irritated me a bit by using the cumbersome “de-familiarized” in Lecture 6 instead of “disoriented” and by pronouncing samurai in Lecture 7 as “samyurai.” Still, I heartily recommend this course to anyone with an interest in this kind of literature, whether you have already read these works or would like to. Bedore is very considerate in not spoiling the ending whenever possible!
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not really about Utopia/Dystopia The only Great Courses title that I've ever quit listening to. It's not really about Utopias/Dystopias. It's just a platform for lectures on feminist and LGTB topics. A major disappointment. Short on information on Utopia/Dystopias as works of literature
Date published: 2017-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding presentation and fascinating ideas. I've bought several Great Courses and this is the best! Nice graphics and illustrations, and the speaker is engaging throughout. A must buy!
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love the content, hate the reading. This is a great course, it has given me a new perspective on classics I've read and a huge reading list of new pieces to pick up. I hate the way it's read though, it feels forced. I would have preferred the standard style which feels more like sitting in on the lecture, less like some kind of slam poetry or spoken word production. This should not dissuade anyone from getting the course, it's very good. I just hope TTC moves away from this style; it's annoying.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Utopian & Dystopian Literature I quit listening half way through. The verbiage is pointless and petty. It is not worth the sixty dollars I paid, and when I have time I will request a refund. It is stunning anyone would take a class in something so meaningless. In addition, it is irritating that the speaker/professor appears to use the first half as a personal platform to advocate the women's rights movement. Apparently Utop & Dystop blossomed solely to propagandize women's plight on earth. I think the civilized world is aware of this. We don't need a re-education camp. The lectures have nothing insightful or utilitarian, which I found in abundance of How Jesus Became God, and How to Publish Your Book. Finally, the disks are defective. they would not re-play lecture 5 and 7, but continue to default and repeat lectures 4 and 6.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Broad and insightful This course is an easy one to review. Professor Bedore is my kind of literature professor. I still consider "A Skeptics Guide to the Great Books" from "The Great Courses" to be my favorite of this type of course but this one comes in close second. She focuses on the story and not on some hypothetical symbolism. She provides interesting and profound insights into the stories. I have already read many of the books covered in this course, as probably many have that would bother to read this review. I still found her treatments more than worth my time. I found her reviews of "Animal Farm" and "1984" brought back the excitement, joy, insights, and simple pleasure of the original experiences. Take "Clockwork Orange" as another example. I have read the book and seen the movie and have been both troubled and captivated. Many have avoided this story or tried it and have been repulsed by the ultra-violence. I am not claiming that view is unfounded but Professor Bedore explains, articulately, why she thinks this story is so important. She directly addresses the question, "Is the ultra-violence necessary?" I very much enjoyed her insights. The big benefit of course like this though is finding new stuff to read. I have added many to my list.
Date published: 2017-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good course with some problems The professor knew the material well and introduced me to some books I have not read like "We" which I recommended to our daughter who is an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher. They study some dystopian works in her class. My one complaint is that the professor dwells to long on some more "liberal/feminist" authors and works. I agree these need to be covered to give a well rounded approach to the subject but in my opinion she went overboard. The professor could have also covered books such as "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand as a utopian and dystopian word or even "Star Trek" as a utopian work. I liked the course overall and would recommend it to people who read either utopian and/or dystopian works.
Date published: 2017-07-17
  • y_2021, m_4, d_19, h_17
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.14
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_2, tr_57
  • loc_en_CA, sid_2341, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 6.7ms
Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature
Course Trailer
Utopia: The Perfect Nowhere
1: Utopia: The Perfect Nowhere

Enter the world of utopian and dystopian fiction. After a brief foray into the definition and origin of utopia, dive into Ursula K. LeGuin's short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas and explore the ambiguities of "perfect" worlds. Then, get a deeper understanding of the ways genre functions and how it shapes literature....

30 min
Thomas More and Utopian Origins
2: Thomas More and Utopian Origins

Take a step back and learn about the origins of the utopian genre, beginning with Thomas More's Utopia of 1516. More's foundational work gave us the word "utopia," but did it create the genre? Explore the elements of the story to see how it set conventions for later works but also critiqued the very idea of utopia in the process....

32 min
Swift, Voltaire, and Utopian Satire
3: Swift, Voltaire, and Utopian Satire

Continue your exploration of the early history of utopia by examining notable works produced during the two centuries following More's initial work. Compare and contrast the ideas of "classical utopia" and "critical utopia" and understand how laughter was an integral part of 18th-century utopian storytelling, focusing on Voltaire's Candide and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels....

31 min
American Dreamers: Hawthorne and Alcott
4: American Dreamers: Hawthorne and Alcott

The 19th century was the "century of utopia" and also marked the transition from utopian to dystopian stories in popular literature. Look at Americans who attempted to build real-world utopias, and in turn examine the work of two authors who reacted to the American attempt at perfect societies: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott. Consider the ways that optimistic, utopian thinking is integr...

32 min
Samuel Butler and Utopian Technologies
5: Samuel Butler and Utopian Technologies

Shift your attention from rural American utopias to explore from a different perspective: Victorian anxieties about technology and the vanishing frontier. Analyze these fears in Samuel Butler's Erewhon, which utilizes utopian conventions and heavy doses of satire to critique religion, health, education, and humanity's increasingly complex relationship to machines....

32 min
Edward Bellamy and Utopian Activism
6: Edward Bellamy and Utopian Activism

Can utopian literature have real-world impact? This question is integral to understanding the significance of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. Witness the ways Bellamy's socialist vision of the future had genuine influence on the social activists of Gilded Age America. Professor Bedore also introduces the idea of "euchronia"-a form of utopia set in a different time rather than a different place...

31 min
H. G. Wells and Utopian Science Fiction
7: H. G. Wells and Utopian Science Fiction

Unlike the utopian tradition, science fiction doesn't have a single text that defines its origin. It does, however, have several figures credited with its creation. One such figure is H.G. Wells, who not only helped in the creation of science fiction as a genre, but was also deeply devoted to utopian thinking. Ultimately, his work brought utopia and science fiction together in the same space, high...

30 min
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Gendered Utopia
8: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Gendered Utopia

Many utopian stories were concerned with "the woman question," or the quest to determine where women belong in an ideal society. Charlotte Perkins Gilman went a step further by creating a utopian society populated solely by women: Herland. See how questions of gender equality are reframed without the reference of an opposite gender and the impact of Gilman's vision on the feminist movements of the...

31 min
Yevgeny Zamyatin and Dystopian Uniformity
9: Yevgeny Zamyatin and Dystopian Uniformity

Shift your attention from utopian blueprints to the cautionary tales of dystopia and explore the origins of the genre and the complex ways it functions in literature. Examine the period between World War I and World War II that produced the "Big Three Dystopias" and dive into the earliest of them, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin....

31 min
Aldous Huxley and Dystopian Pleasure
10: Aldous Huxley and Dystopian Pleasure

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, published in 1932, is the second of the "Big Three" dystopian novels of the interwar years. Investigate the ways Huxley projects the anxieties of his day onto the future, creating a world in which people are controlled not by pain or fear, but by pleasure, and consider how utopian and dystopia are often only matters of perspective....

30 min
George Orwell and Totalitarian Dystopia
11: George Orwell and Totalitarian Dystopia

Perhaps the most famous of the three defining dystopias of the early 20th century, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four has created a vocabulary of ideas we continue to use in political discourse today. Trace the ways Orwell uses language to shape his dystopic vision and the way it both reflects and distorts reality....

31 min
John Wyndham and Young Adult Dystopia
12: John Wyndham and Young Adult Dystopia

Published during the wave of anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s, John Wyndham's The Chrysalids is one of the earliest examples of Young Adult dystopian fiction and a potent examination of the "fear of the Other" in dystopian storytelling. See how it set the stage for the extremely rich strain of dystopian literature aimed at younger readers that dominates bestseller lists in the 21st century....

30 min
Philip K. Dick's Dystopian Crime Prevention
13: Philip K. Dick's Dystopian Crime Prevention

Examine the parallels between social and political issues that become prominently reflected in science fiction literature as utopias and dystopias become less independent of each other. Look at the portrayal of community, choice, and rules to determine when the sacrifices being made cross the threshold between a completely perfect society and a complete lack of freedom. As the genre starts to tack...

31 min
Anthony Burgess, Free Will, and Dystopia
14: Anthony Burgess, Free Will, and Dystopia

Delve deeper into the central question of free will and how utopian studies respond emotionally and intellectually to this conundrum by examining A Clockwork Orange. Discover the literature that influenced it and was impacted by it, while exploring the nuanced differences between reading and watching this pivotal work. Burgess looks at extreme situations to pose questions we continue to struggle w...

32 min
The Feminist Utopian Movement of the 1970s
15: The Feminist Utopian Movement of the 1970s

The feminist utopian movement began in the 1970s and, despite the name, doesn't feature very many traditional "utopias." There is a guarded optimism represented in these novels that dealt with real-world issues of discrimination by creating societies portrayed as classless, crimeless, government-free, but laden with satire....

33 min
Ursula K. Le Guin and the Ambiguous Utopia
16: Ursula K. Le Guin and the Ambiguous Utopia

Delve into the science fiction-based worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, who approaches various situations with an open mind, drawing upon disciplines like physics, anthropology, and fine arts. She builds worlds in which people attempt all kinds of strategies of governance, including no governance at all. Discover how Le Guin uses sci-fi and utopia to explore LGBTQ issues with the intent to change our vi...

31 min
Samuel Delany and the Heterotopia
17: Samuel Delany and the Heterotopia

Focusing on Trouble on Triton, explore the ways Delany introduces readers to ambiguous heterotopia through a society where your identity (such as sex, race, religion, and sexual preference) can easily be changed. Investigate whether this abundance of individual freedom results in utopia or dystopia....

32 min
Octavia Butler and the Utopian Alien
18: Octavia Butler and the Utopian Alien

None of Octavia Butler's writings fit perfectly into the categories of utopia or dystopia, but she is vital to this study because her utopian writing represents a turning point that moves us from the feminist utopian renaissance of the 1970s to the more complex negotiation between utopian and dystopian impulses that helped shape the genres as they are today. In the first of two lectures focused on...

31 min
Octavia Butler and Utopian Hybridity
19: Octavia Butler and Utopian Hybridity

Examine the many ways Butler challenges boundaries-not only of genres, but also of human identity. In this lecture, you'll see how she tackles the questions that are important in defining utopian futures: what does it mean to be human? Is utopia always an unresolvable paradox? And if it is, does it have to be? How much can we change and still be considered human? And really, does being human even ...

30 min
Margaret Atwood and Environmental Dystopia
20: Margaret Atwood and Environmental Dystopia

Margaret Atwood is an icon in utopian and dystopian fiction. Explore the ways she has helped to shape utopian thought and sexual politics with one of her classic novels, The Handmaid's Tale, as well as her more recent MaddAddam trilogy. Atwood is known for apocalyptic writing but you'll see how even her darkest works have elements of humor and satire with intrinsic meaning....

30 min
Suzanne Collins and Dystopian Games
21: Suzanne Collins and Dystopian Games

Does it seem like a lot of the most popular books for young adults lately have been dystopias? In this lecture, explore why teens are so drawn to dystopia, what current anxieties are being tracked in this large body of YA literature, and what the impact of this literature on young adult readers has been. You'll also discover why this subgenre is so popular with adults....

30 min
Cyberpunk Dystopia: Doctorow and Anderson
22: Cyberpunk Dystopia: Doctorow and Anderson

The cyberpunk genre was developed in the 1980s and often features advanced information technology that allows much of the action to take place in cyber space rather than physical space, with an emphasis on the dangers and pleasures of the spaces between the cyber and physical worlds. Through satire or in earnest, we get at the same anxieties about contemporary American society: the internet has am...

31 min
Apocalyptic Literature in the 21st Century
23: Apocalyptic Literature in the 21st Century

Dive into the world of post-apocalyptic literature, which examines the aftermath of a cataclysmic event. Review the four major apocalyptic sources: technological, biomedical, environmental, or supernatural, and explore bodies of work that utilize each one. You'll see how even the worst dystopian situations often sneak hopes of utopian thinking into the stories because humanity survives on a core o...

30 min
The Future of Utopia and Dystopia
24: The Future of Utopia and Dystopia

Reflect on how dystopia shows us the darker side of contemporary reality right here in our connected global world, focusing on issues we struggle with every day: totalitarian government, new technologies, economic disparity, control of sexuality, and environmental degradation. Conclude with the recurring theme around utopian yearnings and the sinister road that leads to dystopia, proving that the ...

35 min
Pamela Bedore

Long before "Utopia" was published, humans have tried to find a shared understanding of what a perfect society might look like, and more importantly, how it can be achieved.


University of Rochester


University of Connecticut

About Pamela Bedore

Pamela Bedore is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses in American Literature, Popular Culture, and Genre Fiction. She holds undergraduate degrees in English and Education from Queen's University, a Master's from Simon Fraser University, and a PhD from the University of Rochester.

Dr. Bedore has published widely on science fiction, detective fiction, and writing administration, in such journals as Foundations: The International Review of Science Fiction, Studies in Popular Culture, and Writing Program Administrator. She is the book review editor for Clues: A Journal of Detection. Her first book, Dime Novels and the Roots of American Detective Fiction, was published in 2013. Dr. Bedore has examined such diverse phenomena of popular culture as vampires and zombies in the financial news, gay detectives in nineteenth-century dime novels, and the teaching of monster culture.

Winner of AAUP (American Association of University Professors) Excellence Awards in Teaching Promise and then in Teaching Innovation, Dr. Bedore has taught innovate literature courses including American Detective Fiction, Stephen King and Cultural Theory, The Monster in Literature and Culture, and Sherlock Holmes and Media Studies.

Also By This Professor