JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Selected Topics in World Literature: The Dystopian Novels - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above and one previous English literature class

This course is an upper-level course designed to provide a thorough investigation of a limited number of texts or of a specific central unifying theme that can be chosen either from Western or non-Western literature. The course invites students to take a closer look both at the text or theme in question and at the world out of which the focal subject developed. Through the comparative analysis of literary texts from diverse cultures, students will come to see how cultural differences can influence such elements as narrative, structure, literary style, plot conventions, point of view, or the construction of character and voice. They will also be able to see how similar literary themes may be handled with different emphases by different cultures, or how cultural biases can result in different or even completely opposite moral conclusions.
This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing.
 The term "dystopia" has a new currency and dominates the media. This course investigates the tradition of the dystopian novel and the contextual reasons for the genre's new popularity in the 21st century, taking into account the adaptations into different media and the way certain tropes from dystopian novels have become mainstream, such as "Big Brother," "doublespeak" or the political use of the red dress from the Handmaid's Tale. Reading a selection of 20th and 21st century dystopian novels, students will work on the relationship between literature and historical-political context, and the way in which art sublimates social anxieties.
Students will learn how to analyze a literary text critically, how to identify a genre and style of fiction, how to research a topic and write academic papers. Students will be able to evaluate the relationship between political and social anxieties and cultural products, identifying the historical events and social transformations that create an increasing readership for the dystopian novel.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Brave New WorldAldous HuxleyVintage Classics 2007 ISBN-13: 978-0099518471 Order at Almost Corner Bookshop
NneteeneightyfourGeorge OrwellPenguin Classics 2015ISBN-13: 978-0241246108 Order at Almost Corner Bookshop
The Man in the High CastlePhilip K. DickPenguin Classics 2015ISBN-13: 978-0241246108 Order at Almost Corner Bookshop
Never Let Me Go Kazuo IshiguroFaber and Faber 2010 ISBN-13: 978-0571258093 Order at Almost Corner Bookshop
The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood Vintage Classics 2017 ISBN-13: 978-1784873189  Order at Almost Corner Bookshop
The Circle Dave Eggers Penguin 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0241146507  Order at Almost Corner Bookshop

2 home papers2000 word research papers on the relationship between historical and political events and a specific novel.50%
Final research paper3000 word research paper fulfills the Honors component of the course25%
class contributionComing to class prepared, having read the assigned material, ready to participate in class discussion. Silent attendance does not contribute to this portion of the grade.10%
Short research assignments 15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
week 1Introduction to the course. Utopia and Dystopia, literal meanings, connotations and cultural tradition   
Week 2Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (1932)   
Week 3Brave New World ctd. Reasearch on historical background of BNW 
Week 41984 - George Orwell (1948)   
Week 51984 ctd. Research on historical background of 1984 
Week 6The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick (1962) 1st Home Paper Due 
Week 7The Man in the High Castle ctd. Research on historical background MHC 
Week 8The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood (1985)   
Week 10The Handmaid's Tale ctd. Research on historical background HT 
Week 10Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (2005) 2nd Home Paper due 
Week 11Never Let Me Go ctd. Research historical background NLG 
Week 12The Circle - Dave Eggers (2013)   
Week 13The Circle ctd. Research historical background of the Circle 
Week 14Revision   
Week 15  Final Paper due