"Utopian & Dystopian Visions of America" - Freshman Seminar
- Nathan David Leahy
- Harris Hall L28 - MoWeFr 2:00PM - 2:50PM
Overview of classThe Eurocentric literary tradition of envisioning the Americas as a utopia began shortly after the first colonies were established. "America" and, more narrowly, North America, and later still, the United States, have been regularly invoked in political and literary discourses with distinctly utopian terms, or terms considered utopian only when torn from their original context: a "New World," a "New Jerusalem," a "City Upon a Hill," the "last best hope of the Earth," and so on. This course will interrogate this intellectual tradition within U.S. cultural history by starting with an overview of key texts in early-American writing, especially the late 18th century foundational political and legal texts, that undergird much of the subsequent utopian and dystopian visions of the U.S. in literature. We will then leap ahead in history to focus on the enormous and unprecedented outpouring of utopian and dystopian literature written about the U.S. in the late 19th century as the nation was emerging as a global industrial and economic superpower while it was also grappling with the social volatility caused by rapid industrialization, a deregulated economy, waves of immigration with their attendant outbursts of nativism and racism, the failures of southern Reconstruction, the "closing" of the western frontier, the acquisition of territories and founding of colonies abroad, and the many ways in which these things prompted a rethinking of the U.S. as a utopian and/or dystopian "social experiment." We will continue our investigation through the 1930s and into the early years of the Cold War when antagonistic visions of a utopian future held by the U.S. and Soviet Unionone capitalistic, one socialisticdominated global politics. No background in U.S. history, utopian literature, or American literature is expected
Evaluation MethodThree essays, in-class assignments, weekly blackboard postings: two shorter essays (4-5 pages) and one longer final essay (8-12 pages), weekly blackboard postings of about 250 words
Class NotesNathan Leahy is a lecturer in the department of English and completing a dissertation on represenations of financial crises in American fiction.
Enrollment RequirementsEnrollment Requirements: Reserved for Freshmen and Sophomores
Current as of 03/20/14 10:52:49 AM